Since the verdict in the Michael Dunn case was announced, I have been greatly disturbed by the indelible silence of educators like myself, many of whom teach Black boys like Jordan Davis. As I struggle with my own anger, pain and grief over the verdict, I am confused, disappointed and saddened by the collective silence of my colleagues – most of whom are White. To be certain, about eight of my online colleagues have spoken out, and for them, I feel grateful and blessed. But…what about the 100-some-odd others of them?
Why the lack of response? What explains the need for extended reflection? They’re quick and read to go the full 12 rounds on any other issue – except, it seems, when they’re called out to stand up for kids who don’t look like them.
I want to believe that perhaps they are still in shock over the verdict. Or, maybe they’re still trying to process their own thoughts and feelings about the matter. Or, maybe they’re afraid of saying “the wrong thing.” Or, perhaps, they simply DON’T CARE.
Which amazes me, really. These are the same teachers who would go to jail to picket against school closings, or the takeover of their local public school by a charter school corporation, or to save their union. These are the same teachers who tweet way past my bedtime, on all things classroom.
Perhaps they simply DON’T CARE.
I want believe that the last reason isn’t the case. I want to believe that the murder of a Black boy in Florida matters to them in the same way that the murders of White children in Newtown did. Speaking of which, these same, White colleagues posted endless tweets, Facebook updates, and blog entries about the tragedy in Newtown. To be certain, what occurred in Newtown was a tragedy. A horrendous, ugly, senseless tragedy. So is the murder of Jordan Davis. He, too, was a child, like those in Newtown.
And then, I am reminded of my place of employ: the predominately-White, so-far-to-the-left-that-people-are-hitting-themselves school, where the mantra is changing one’s world and the world around them, and students are encouraged to be strong self-advocates, i.e. student voice in progressive-speak. All of the aforementioned stands in direct contradiction to what I will encounter on Tuesday morning. The silence there will be deadening, and all in the name of the hipster social justice they claim to uphold. I am not looking forward to returning to school on Tuesday; the same deadening silence I am experiencing on my Twitter feed, and on my Facebook timeline, I will have to experience at my place of employ in real time.
Despite everything, I will need to have something to say to the kids, to my students. Although I need to have a message for all of my students, I feel obligated to not let my Black and Brown students down, and especially the Black boys. As a Black teacher, I feel I need to have the right words. Especially for them.
So, we come back around to the colleagues who have had nothing to say. Unless they are devoid of a heart and feelings and intelligence, they can, in fact, come up with something meaningful to say. If they can evangelize about teaching, and picket for ed reform, they can do both for Jordan Davis. After all, they will be looking him in the face on Tuesday morning.