(title from song lyrics from the 1970 film “Santa Claus Is Coming’ To Town”)
Like so many white people these days, I want this summer to be transformational, to deepen my work in profoundly important ways.
But I long ago internalized the notion that equity work is “a marathon, not a sprint,” to echo the catch phrase, even as I continue to feel the “fierce urgency of now” (quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others). Bringing sustainable intentionality to my work is itself fiercely urgent.
Three weeks ago, I was feeling tightness and muscle pain in my left leg. I took a couple of days off and tried again. As I kept running, the stiffness gradually dissipated, but half a mile from home, I developed some pain in my right knee and decided it was best to walk the rest of the way back. On my second day of knee rest, I discovered that my right running shoe had developed a three-inch-long tear in the fabric. I ordered new shoes online. It turned out my old pair was two years old, meaning I’d probably been wearing them at least four times as long as I should have given how much I run.
The new shoes arrived a week ago, and all the pain is gone. I’m back up to six-mile runs, working on regaining lost stamina before continuing my training where I left off. So far, so good.
This past week, I’ve taken daily concrete actions (goal 1), noticed a Black non-binary person tweeting about feeling invisible (goal 2, if very minimal progress), and read and took notes on a couple of articles on trauma-informed education and antiracism in trauma work by Kara Newhouse featuring Alex Shevrin Venet and Dena Simmons (goal 3). These articles are leading to next steps in reflecting on how best to preserve the predictability, flexibility, connection, empowerment (the four core priorities of trauma-informed education; Venet) and spaces to acknowledge “Black love, Black excellence, and Black joy” (Simmons) that I’ve tried to build into my class while taking it to the next level with deeper looks at media literacy and bias and at the historical roots of racism in the U.S.
I’ve just finished the YA book Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, highlighting in blue specific information and quotes I could use in my Humanities 7 teaching, and highlighting in orange key figures and primary resources for deeper work. I’m choosing to frame our work by distinguishing between prejudice, bigotry, and racism (Irving) and distinguishing between segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists (Reynolds and Kendi). I’ve also begun seeking more information on the highlighted historical figures and sources.
So far, so good.