What Color Is Your Tiki Torch?

My dear White brothers and sisters who are expressing surprise at the expression of tiki-torch carrying White Supremacy, violence, and domestic terrorism in Virginia today, I would like a word. Yes, I’m talking to you who just said, “I can’t believe this is 2017.” If we are the type to be offended by racism, of course we are outraged by today’s news. Of course we want to distance ourselves from those uncanny, waxen-faced weirdos waving Confederate flags and making Heil salutes over the flames of their tiki torches. Distancing ourselves is not enough. In fact, I argue that we take…

Were You Scared?

A few days ago, a beloved former student of mine (a black man) from the charter school where I used to teach tagged me on Facebook with the following meme:(It’s probably good to note here that I’m one of those teachers that is better in retrospect than I am in the present moment. I’m kind of like childbirth that way. When my class is over, you’re glad you went through it and tend to forget the pain.) Perhaps it is this amnesia effect that caused my beloved former student to forget that I ruin jokes. And I ruined this one big time….

To My So-Called Progressive White Friends During the Summer of 16

Listen, some of my best friends are white. I’m not racist against whites, I swear. I’m not trying to say I’m the Queen of Consciousness either. My own snow blindness is as devastating to the goals of equality and justice as yours is. But if I’ve grown in my awareness at all, it’s because of articles like Michael Eric Dyson’s Death in Black and White, and Sally Kohn’s This Is What White People Can Do to Support #BlackLivesMatter.  I am tempted here to just give a long reading list including but not limited to the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Jericho Brown,…

5 Things I Do to Raise a Conscious Child

Listen to New York Public Library podcast programs with her on the way to and from school. My twelve-year-old daughter is too young to read Beloved yet, but after listening to Toni Morrison’s reflection on the writing of it, she deeply gets why, for example, the success of  a children’s book glossing over the horrors of slavery is dangerous for young readers. Read together. According to a 2013 study appearing in Science magazine, reading literary fiction has a tendency to improve a reader’s empathy for other people in complex social situations. In my house, we set aside regular time to read…