Warning: This week’s entry contains a fair bit of Explicit Content in the form of sexually-objectifying music videos, often with explicit lyrics.
I have a terrible secret to admit. I am ashamed to write this, but the first step to getting over an addiction is to admit you have a problem…
I love to dance to this song:
Wow . . . We really are out of touch with the message and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The week before the national holiday that honors the man, a Pentagon official suggested that though he spoke out openly against the war in Vietnam, calling it “dishonorable and unjust,” Dr. King would actually support the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wow? Really? One of the harshest critics of the war in Vietnam and a clear pacifist would somehow support two wars of aggression in foreign lands? Huh.
On Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I came across an article by one of my favorite authors, Tim Wise, entitled, “We Twisted King’s Dream, so We Live with His Nightmare.” In the article, Wise uses poignant examples from King’s life and from our current social and political realities to come to the following conclusion:
“In short, by not understanding the fundamental truth of King’s message that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, we have created a society, 43 years since his death, where injustice and suffering are rampant. And one in which the dreams of the civil rights movement appear the fantastical products of some Ambien-induced haze. Only by putting away, forever, the safe and sanitized version of this man and his compatriots, might we ever awaken from the stupor and become worthy of that which we celebrate this week.”
Soon after hearing about the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the resulting murder of six and injury of 14, I immediately knew that I wanted to blog this week on the tragedy. The struggle, though, has been to figure out the best way to blog about the heartbreaking subject matter.
At first I wanted to take a more political stance, quick like so many to assume a connection to the violent political rhetoric of our time. But others had said it better:
Plus, the message needed to be so much bigger.
Then I was inclined to write about those whose lives were taken, profiling the lives lost. Others had done such an eloquent job, though.
Then I considered writing of the heroes who stopped the shooter before he could inflict worse damage (including the amazing elderly woman who wrestled the second clip out of the gunman’s hand) or the hero that is credited with saving Gabrielle Giffords’ life.
None of these felt right, though. What could I honestly contribute to the din of stories, arguments, blaming, and honoring that already fills the internet on this subject?
In thinking over this tragedy, though, I can’t help but think about the work that I do. Every time I speak, the core of my message comes down to relationships, to tearing down the walls that divide us from those with whom we can learn, collaborate, cooperate, and share. It’s hard to say whether such relationships could have prevented this tragedy, but for me, one thing is clear as we wipe the tears from our eyes and look to move forward.
This week I had the incredible fortune of working with the teachers and students of Richmond-Burton Community High School in Richmond, IL. I facilitated two assemblies of my workshop, “The Wall,” and I led a student leadership training with an AMAZING group of young people. I also had the unique opportunity to lead a professional development session for teachers based on the feedback I had gotten from students about what could be improved in the school. The professional development was entitled, “Best Practice in Serving Diverse Student Populations.”
One of the things that I stressed in the PD is something I firmly believe about diversity in our schools: there is no social issue or form of diversity that will affect your classroom more than class. Class, indeed, is the great, oft-unspoken divider in our society. Though we like to think of our society as one built upon equality, the reality is that we live in a class-divided country (and world), and it has been that way since the U.S. was founded.
Take, for instance, the reality that approximately 13% of the American population is officially classified as living within 125% of poverty level, where a family of three earns approximately $17,163 per year (and those statistics come from 2008, a time in which the U.S. economy was doing much better than today). The statistics for child poverty are even more alarming.
Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2008
||Number (in thousands)
|All children under 18
|White only, non-Hispanic
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, Report P60, n. 238, Table B-2, pp. 62-7. Accessed here.
Number of children living in poverty in each state.
Source of the above image
After a week off for Holiday Festivities and Family Time, I am happy to be back to blogging. As we look back over 2010 and look to what 2011 will bring, I cannot help but want to write a list blog like the many out there: Top News Stories of 2010, The Most Beautiful People of 2010 (WEIRD!), Top Tech Innovations of 2010, and so on.
In Change From Within style, though, my list will be a tad bit different. Based on my musings over the year that was 2010, here are a few:
THINGS I WANT TO SEE OR SEE MORE OF IN 2011
- Victories for Gay Rights like the overturning of Prop 8 and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!!
- Sanity in our politics. John Stewart, you make me swoon.
- Accountable, loving, and communicative Partnerships. My partner and I have been going through some struggles in learning how we communicate, so this topic is very much on my mind. Thank you to the amazing people who have displayed healthy partnerships for me. Let’s see more of them in 2011!!
- Consent – You can never have enough consent.
- Relationships across difference – Let’s start/continue reaching out and building accountable relationships!
- Laughter. Nuf Said.
- Student-Centered School Reform – Testing our students provides wonderfully-useful data. However, in the “race to the top,” let’s not simply continue to leave the students behind.
- Support and love for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters – Again, I want 2011 to be the year we make it better!
- Andrea Gibson
- Time taken out of our busy lives to appreciate the ones we love.
What things do you want to leave behind in 2010? What do you want to see or see more of in 2011?
Happy New Year, All!
Peace be the Journey