I read Ta-nihisi Coates' Between The World And Me over the summer and earliest fall. It's a short book that would generally have taken me the idle ends of a day (lines, coffee drive-throughs, meals) to finish but it took me weeks, because I had to read it a little bit at a time and think. We all need to think about racism in this country.
As someone who has taught in an inner city school and knows what impossible expectations are put on teachers- both by others due to the testing mess and by ourselves due to the urgency of our desires to get children through school so they may have a chance of getting out of poverty - the truth that Mr. Coates speaks about our schools hurts me. We do tell children that getting through school is their way out when so often it will not be. ..when so often it will not be enough to battle institutional racism, when so many fine, first-generation college students are crushed by law enforcement officers, when it is just so much more complicated than that. We do contribute, in our desperation to be able to teach the students who are listening, to the school-to-prison pipeline. It is hard to manage a class when a youth takes his rage at the system out on you because you are its representative in his life. It hurts our feelings when we just want to teach some history and be a helpful adult in the lives of kids. The system of discipline in the schools does not possess the options that any of us need, but it is ultimately our youth who the system destroys.
Just read it. We have to understand. We have to do better. We have to be thinking if we are ever going to find solutions, so start.