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‘Gray is the Only Way’: A Different Kind of #FridayREADS

It’s been a rough week.

Certainly an understatement. I know we are hurting, scared, worried.

My emotions have kept me mostly mute, and I struggled with what to write today. I’ve started over five times. Then, I found something that helped me put thoughts into words, so I’m going to try. I’m also going to ask you to read something.

Before you read any further, know this:  I am not a Trump supporter, nor am I a Clinton supporter. I am an American invested in finding solutions to the issues that divide us as a people.

I am an Army mom whose son pledged to die fighting for my rights, and yours.

I am a Christian, and I’m pretty tired of being called intolerant, a homophobe, a racist, a bigot, and the like. My life speaks the opposite every single day.

I am a teacher. Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, refugee, documented and undocumented, children enter my door every August, expecting to be taught critical thinking skills and to grow as readers, writers, and communicators. I am good at my job.

I love these children. These children are our hope.

But I wonder:  What kind of examples have we set for them lately? This election brought out the worst in so many of us.

I’m reminded of the TV commercial a few years ago where the little boy follows in the shadow of a man all day. Everything the man does, the little boy does. Cussing, smoking, drinking. I can’t remember, but probably giving people the bird, too.

I’m reminded of the book Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Mathew Quick where Leonard follows adults around — on the subway, through the mall, on the way to work –to see if anyone is truly happy.

What have our children seen in us this week?

Have they learned to graciously concede, even when they do not win or get their own way?  Hillary Clinton set a beautiful example when with composure and grace she delivered her concession speech. Of Trump, she said “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” She urged unity. Not the protests and especially not the looting.

I believe we can be better than we have been.

I read this post last night, and my students and I read it together today. I urge you to read it and pass it along:  What a Gay, Muslim, Pakistani-American Immigrant Learned Traveling to Rural Alaska a Week before the Election.

 

Riaz Patel’s position gives me hope. What if every American “decided [they] needed to understand the election from a perspective other than [their] own”?

Imagine what we could learn “by listening. Listening. Not waiting to speak. Not waiting to disagree or refute.”

In our lightening-like, digital world, we have lost the art of listening.

What are the possibilities if we could all remember to practice Patel’s idea to “PERSONIFY the people we think we hate”?

I agree with him, maybe “Grey is the only way.”

Every American had skin in this election. Every American has skin in the country we choose to create.

We have to figure this thing out, or we may destroy one another.

The generalities and absolutes we have seen during the election  — and this past week — are opportunities for us to teach children that NOT ALL is sometimes more important than some.

 

My second period made a NOT All list as a way of thinking through the stereotypes and bias we see and experience every day:

Not all Mexicans are illegal

Not all white people are rednecks

Not all black people rob

Not all cops shoot black people

Not all Asians are smart

Not all Mexicans cut grass

Not all Asians are good at math

Not all white people are good at English

Not all Blacks have food stamp cards

Not all Blacks like chicken or watermelon

Not all Blacks are drug dealers

Not all Mexicans are rapists

Not all Muslims are terrorists

Not all Hispanics speak Spanish

Not all rednecks are racist

Not all black men are deadbeats

Not all Hispanics are Mexican

Not all Mexicans distribute drugs

Not all blondes are dumb

Not all black girls are ‘ratchet’

Not all black boys are gangsters

Not all Asian parents are strict

Not all Whites are drug addicts

Not all boxes are square

 

 

 

Not all boxes are square. And I think we can do better in proving that is so.

Enjoy the weekend, my friends. Joy cometh in the morning. Psalms 30:5

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9 thoughts on “‘Gray is the Only Way’: A Different Kind of #FridayREADS

  1. […] silence those who disagree with them with blatant disregard. I fight against this every day, but last Friday we took a few steps forward. I want us to keep […]

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  2. Sonja November 13, 2016 at 4:13 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing about how your class is processing the election. I began in education in the fall of 2007, and I had my students use new technology of Google Docs to join the Letters To The Next President drive. Now Google Docs is where I keep all my worksheets and the idea of writing to the next president is still important. Still, I’m struggling to help my students understand where their voice is in politics and how to react when they worry that their voice will not be honored and where they believe that silence will protect them more than speaking up for themselves. I teach in a very diverse high school and after I set up very clear discussion rules, the one Muslim boy in my class signed up to talk, then after 2 of his classmates talked, he made eye contact with me and silently opted out of sharing with the class. I worry about students who insist that they are part of a NOT ALL stereotype and they are still not believed. I worry about students who may decide the struggle of asking to be believed, asking to be trusted, is not worth it.

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    • Amy Rasmussen November 13, 2016 at 8:10 pm Reply

      I have the same worries as you. I have one Indian student in this particular class, and I know he is afraid to share his views with the whole class. I am careful to let him to sit with others who he feels comfortable enough to speak with, and then occasionally, I will ask him he he wants to share with the class. Sometimes he does. I also remind students every single day that all voices matter. So many feel like they’e been silenced before that I don’t really believe that. I have to prove them wrong — and I do not tolerate any razzing from anyone. Ever.

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  3. ML November 13, 2016 at 1:04 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m really enjoying this blog and I can’t wait to share this article with my students. Here’s to listening and learning together!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark Moran November 12, 2016 at 8:55 pm Reply

    This is a brilliant post. We have indeed lost the ability to truly listen. Thank you for writing it and sharing it. I’d take it a step further and use MOST ____ ARE NOT _____ in place of NOT ALL.

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    • Amy Rasmussen November 13, 2016 at 8:11 pm Reply

      Good idea. I just used the language of the writer of the article I referenced.

      Like

  5. Leigh Anne November 12, 2016 at 7:32 pm Reply

    Thank you for writing these words and sharing the “gray” post. I have students who fear their parents losing their jobs because of coal mines shutting down or having their electricity shut off because their dad has lost his manufacturing job. Just because out students’s fears are different, doesn’t mean they are any less important.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. holly November 11, 2016 at 4:32 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for your words! As a teacher and a Christian, I resonated with so much of what you said. May kindness and our actions be examples for our students to follow.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. shanakarnes November 11, 2016 at 2:40 pm Reply

    Amy, I love how you always have the right words for us, even when you say you can’t find any. You are wrong and you found so many of the right ones here.

    Love you. Lucky students in your classroom. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

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