Do not go gently into that next month. Do not close the book on the last one, and not open it up until the same time next year. Do not look at your checklist and think it is complete. There are still boxes to tick and more are being added each day. There is work to be done on behalf of equity, justice, identity and intersectionality. Do not go gently into that next month.
This past February has revealed so much to me as an educator. It has shown me that you cannot put a time frame around unlearning centuries of racism in the form of micro and macro aggressions against Black, Indigenous, Asian, and all People of Colour. February has shown me that the narratives of history have been whitewashed and buried in textbooks in the hopes that the bones of truth would not be exhumed.
February has taught me that even our collective best efforts to seed conversations, nurture thoughts, and harvest actions face unnatural forces of hatred and bigotry in the gardens of the communities we sow. There are weeds to pull that must be dug out from far below the surface hit by the light. We must dig down to uproot what is hidden in the dirt below.
March must be about continuing conversations around race and racism while celebrating black excellence beyond Rosa, Harriet, Nelson, and Martin. March needs to come in like a lion roaring the names who have fought against injustice and oppression who have yet to be mentioned in the history books. It is not just about athletes and performers, there are teachers, business owners, activists, and civic leaders who have all fought against systemic racism, injustice, and oppression with rarely a mention in our classrooms beyond the month of February: Afua, Dudley, Clotilda, and Denham.
The names above and so many more have been part of the fabric of our communities, but seem to get lost the other 11 months of the year. Please do not go gently in next month without digging deeper into the undershared stories of black excellence that exist around us beyond the worlds of sports and entertainment.
Do not go gently into that next month. It is our collective call to action to learn how to become anti-racist educators. It cannot be compartmentalized into a fraction of our instructional year. Anti-racism education cannot be reduced to a brief item at a staff meeting or a PD session either. 1 month out of 12 will never be enough when racism is working all year long. This work cannot be hefted onto someone else’s shoulders. We must all carry our share of the load.
Do not go gently into that next month. Now more than ever it is time to rage against what has caused so much harm from generation to generation. Embrace what discomforts you, be okay with the dissonance from not having all of the answers to students’ questions. Seek out others who are learning too. Walk alongside them as you learn and grow together and continue planting the seeds of equity and justice in your classrooms.
“Do not go gently into that…” and ‘rage against” phrasing borrowed from Dylan Thomas’ poem Do not go gentle into that good night
The skin we’re in – Desmond Cole
Caste – Isabel Wilkerson