Voices All Around
Technology allows all voices to be heard— all: the hurting, the hurtful, the caring, the cruel, the positive, the negative.
Voices of rich and poor, black and white, right and left, up and down, ignorant and educated, good and evil.
Throughout our history, these have always existed, yet somehow we formed civilizations that grew and thrived.
But now, the goal of the current US administration is to create chaos and division, to destroy the American-ness under the guise of something else. But it isn’t something else– it is to divide and destroy the rights of most Americans, unless you belong to the new tribe hailed into power in the 2016 elections.
I am white. I am privileged. I have always supported the “underdog,” especially since I grew up poor. But poor and white are still privileged. I earned a college degree and taught in a Title 1, Native American public school. I saw in my own community racial injustices. I spoke up in meetings and community committees. I believed in my students and their amazing talents. I supported them as they transferred to other districts for high school. But I have much more to learn.
We Americans who believe that all of us are created equal– and have rights as human beings, must build bridges beyond who we are. All of us. We must connect and join together in what makes us human, together. And we must vote for our vision for a renewed United States of Americans.
You might ask, “How do you speak up?”
Many of us wonder, how to speak up without causing defensiveness and a worse situation. Teaching Tolerance suggests four ways [Speak Up Against Bias pdf]
- Question: a simple question, such as, “What do you mean? Why do you say that”
- Educate: explain why the said term or phrase is offensive; encourage a different one
- Interrupt: Speak up at bias– “That phrase is hurtful.”
- Echo: Acknowledge when others speak up– “I agree that comment– thank you for speaking up.”
Many times people just don’t “hear” themselves or understand what is offensive. I still have things to learn myself.
And with all the rhetoric in politics today, these apply to those policies, propaganda, and posts that divide us, left, right, Republican, Democrat, as well as with ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. We must connect our stories and build bridges of understanding with our stories– the stones to pave the way forward.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recommends 10 steps to speaking up:
- Join forces
- Support Victims
- Speak up
- Educate yourself
- Create an alternative
- Pressure leaders
- Stay engaged
- Teach acceptance
- Dig Deeper
And Teen Vogue shares some of these same ideas and more in How White People Can Hold Each Other Accountable to Stop Institutional Racism.
We must speak up together– connecting and sharing our stories, and we need to build bridges of understanding to those who think otherwise to hear their stories. Together, our stories are the stones to pave the way forward.
Build bridges with your neighbors and community. This virus makes this difficult, but I hear it in my husband’s zoom meetings– discussions of policies that limit the rights of another are called out and discussed, looking for ways to work together in our physically distant world by thinking forward, rather than staying with past practices. Some people don’t want to be inclusive, yet, when people are brought together to see and hear each other, the fear of “other” diminishes.
We all have stories. Stories we share and stories that are hidden. Thomas Murray wrote a beautiful post with a link to this video about hidden stories, and that if we knew those stories, would we treat each other differently? He quotes from the video:
“If you could see into the hearts of others, feel what they feel, understand their struggles, hopes, fears, and joys…how would you treat them? How would your day be different? Just another day?” ~FranklinCovey – “The Hidden Story”
How do we find stories to understand others? I found two places:
- Choose– started by high school students: Tell Me Who You Are and TED Talk
- Hashtag #OwnVoices where books and stories of many diverse and marginalized voices are shared
Please share what you know about stories for us to learn together, because I follow the belief of Martin Luther King, Jr, as Rev Dr William J Barber II reminds us:
Still Learning to be a Better American
For myself, I will and do speak up. And I will learn more to understand. The news of the last few years has added to the need for teachers to dig into better literature and better strategies for inclusion– see resources below this post, and these:
Remember this EdWeek article by Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram)
There are beliefs that are not consistent with “All are created equal,” and that is White Supremacy, another promotion by the current administration. NCTE even created a statement and resources for bias and white supremacy in 2017: There Is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times. The Western States Center created a toolkit for dealing with this problem: Confronting White Nationalism in Schools Toolkit. These tools will help us understand, though we can never agree. Perhaps, we can reach out.
Sally Yates asked us in 2019:
Art and Action
Hope is the precursor to change. Without it, no better world is possible.
And so I am committed to these acts of hope and help:
- Read to understand diverse stories
- Connect with others to understand different perspectives
- Connect with others to renew our United States of Americans
- Write to keep our voices heard– all the voices undermined by division
- Create art that inspires hope and help
I hope my small acts will help create a better world.
What will you do? Will you join in ?
A downloadable Educational Leadership article “Avoiding Racial Equity Detours” by Paul Gorski
Larry Ferlazzo Websites:
- New Resources on Race and Racism
- NEW & REVISED: THE BEST RESOURCES FOR UNDERSTANDING WHY WE NEED MORE TEACHERS OF COLOR
Kathleen Morris for her tweet to Murray’s post
Links to topic: “Racism” where I have curated these tweets
Speak up for the good that is America. Speak up. Share the good. Let’s show what #BeBest means!
Note: This post was inspired by the hope that speaking up will connect us together as Americans. It was inspired by strategies in a new class I’m taking at Skillshare: A Limited Palette by Liz Kohler Brown. Her class is NOT about social action, but is about color and composition. That finally gave me a way to express my patriotic feelings about our democracy, which is under attack by the current administration’s unAmerican policies that affect most Americans [examples: no national COVID response, denial of health care, misinformation, belittling behavior]. It’s very hard to speak up– it’s like I’m not focusing on the good– but saying nothing about the behavior of our executive branch would be forfeiting my voice as an American who disagrees with the chaos.
Geeky Gramma ~~
Retired Middle School Language Arts Teacher ~~
Writer and Thinker