Being an educator in this current political climate can be fraught with fear. While job security is paramount, so too is encouraging our students to think critically and to see the world beyond the biased version often presented to them by society. In this guest blog post an educator anonymously shares the fear felt as a result of teaching their students to change how they see the world and consider their role within society. To those who continue to do the right thing by their students, I wish you all the best for the year ahead.
Your school email notification goes red letting you know a message has arrived. It is waiting. The correspondence that can possibly change everything. The questions. Phrased as inquiring, yet the deeper meaning shines through like fog lights illuminating the condensed water vapors hanging above the earth’s crust. You are standing on rocky terrain. Be careful. Danger lurks around the corner.
Swiftly the cones in their students’ eyes have started to see the world in a new photopic vision. They begin to examine their selections of clothes they wear, the vocabulary they use, even the food they ingest. Suddenly it all seems preordained. Advertising, society, whiteness, money, heterosexuality all forcing their will upon them without them even understanding.
All this because you dare to disseminate the truth. The curtain has been pulled back. The Great and Powerful Oz suddenly appears more like the hoarding of resources and the hate of those that don’t fit into the boxes that are deemed acceptable by the dominant culture. The “good guy” veneer starts to rub off and all that is left is the evident belief that we as a country have not done adequately for all our citizens and are not actively striving to do better now.
It is your fault for teaching this! Now that you know the truth you can’t sit idly by and continue to prop up the system of ignorance anymore. You realize it is not adequate to not be racist. You have to be anti-racist! It is not sufficient to be against patriarchy you have to be a womanist! Your students need to understand. Your class may be the only time in their entire lives they will see the cracks of capitalism and white supremacy. Your safety in teaching must be yielded. Because of this you know it is coming. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The strife is always just around the corner. The looming email awaits.
Your mouse hovers over the icon like a hummingbird delighting in the nectar of a feeder. You hold your breath and the contraction of cardiac muscle freezes like a deer in headlights. You anticipate the dialogue from the conservative on the other end of the keyboard who is ready to battle.
“Why is your progressive trash being heaped on my child? This liberalism has spread into our safe educational system of indoctrination! Columbus was bad? Malcolm X was good? Revisionist! Dr. King wasn’t color blind? Read the speech! Ignore the Letter From Birmingham jail! Single-use bathrooms? You can’t just choose your gender, You are born with what you are born with! Where does this end! What are you doing to my kid!!”
The email opens. You breathe easy. Today is not the day. There is no battle to be fought. Put down your sword of truth and social justice. Your heart rate starts to beat again and a few deep breaths later you are ready to get back to teaching. You are safe. For now.
Thank you to this anonymous guest writer, and all educators from across the globe who have contributed to the continued success of slowchathealth. If you wish to join this list of educators, please reach out to me. If you have a passion for education, please share it with our global audience.
2 thoughts on “Fear”
Thank you for writing this! As a first year teacher, double minority teaching comprehensive HEALTH Ed. in TEXAS… I have this fear everyday. I wonder if I’m in the right space to make the significant impacts I was born to do.. I hope not only to start but continue the “hard” conversations students deserve.
P.S. – I was at the WHPE Conventions in the Wisconsin Dells (October 2016?) and watched you present. It’s because of educators like you that inspired me to go from the gym to the classroom!
Let’s make sure we stay in touch. Although I didn’t write this post, it’s from an anonymous educator, I too feel this fear. Know that you are doing the right thing. Have a wonderful 2020!