I Fear For My Safety

The police who cornered Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ backyard and shot him down say they “feared for their safety.” They thought he had a gun. He had a cell phone. I was at the protest the other day in Sacramento. We circled the park across City Hall. We marched through the streets, climbed onto the freeway and blocked traffic, stormed the arena where we blocked the entrance for people coming to the Kings game. Stephon Clark was a student at Sac High when I taught there. I knew him. Does that matter? I wonder. I wonder about what matters…

Just Say You’re Welcome

If I go through calisthenics to avoid a straight Thank You, you should see what I’ll do when someone tries to thank me for something. Pish. No, it was no trouble. Please don’t thank me. It was my honor. It was nothing. Okay, so the other day my friend Valerie tried to thank me for taking over some driving duties for the writing workshop. I am a grown woman, but this was my response: “Pish,” I said. “Pish, pish.” Pish isn’t even a word for grown-ups. I know this but I said it anyway. Valerie got a look in her eye that…

Stop Saying Sorry

I have a rule in my classroom that you can’t say you’re sorry unless you hit someone with a hammer on purpose or by mistake. Either scenario would warrant an apology. Otherwise, keep your “I’m sorry” to yourself. My high school students will preface a question with “I’m sorry, but–” as if: 1. It isn’t my paid job to help them, and 2. They are somehow hurting me by showing interest in what we’re doing. My students say sorry for passing me in the hallway.  Sorry for having to use the restroom.  Sorry for laughing too hard. So I made…