"Like Air, We Rise Together: A New Community"
When we create systems and structures for all people, especially people who have been historically marginalized, the work is elevated for all of us. All people need to be heard, seen, and valued. Equity is both a personal and communal project. To be sure, every one of us has to dig deep into our own behaviors to identify prejudices baked in through culture and four-hundred years of history crafted on a single story. We have to confront, name, and deconstruct privilege where we see it and when we participate in it. Many of us have been trying to do this for a long time. Every year we bring diverse texts and activities into our classrooms.
But solo work doesn’t stick. These islands of hope do not sustain enough change to impact the lived experiences of all our students.
For the kinds of results we’re seeking, we have to work together. We have to create a community around shared antiracist and equity-focused values reflected in our pedagogy. And we have to act. Noted activist and educator Mariame Kaba says, “shrink the gap between your values and your actions.”
Creating a new community dedicated to dismantling the structures of privilege and discrimination gives us the intersectional support and momentum to act.
Dr. Bettina Love describes what that looks like:
"It is important for educators to know how deeply unjust systems affect people and their communities in unique ways, but it is also imperative to understand the intersections of injustice. Pedagogies must call out and teach students how racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and inequality are structural, not people behaving badly. They must criticize the systems that perpetuate injustice, such as the educational survival complex, while pushing for equitable communities, schools, and classrooms."
In an especially challenging year, it’s crucial for us to continue to feed our spirits as a community of educators, to remind ourselves of our value and our purpose. Air brings our words, our poetry, our songs, and our works to life carrying their power, their artistry, and their relevance.
Together, as a community of developing antiracist and antibias educators, we can amplify our collective energy and recommit to being stronger, focused, and ready.
Fighting for our humanity, removing barriers, calling loudly in allied human cries, seeing Ms. Angelou’s eyes, hearing her deepening sighs, whispering fiercely: “But still, like air, I rise...”
That’s our new community.