So I’m into a slicing groove now. Got a reasonable rhythm. I know how to not overcommit. I keep my posts short and manageable. Don’t worry much about the yardsticks of creativity or originality. It’s day 10 after all and things are humming along, right?
Here’s some truth. When it comes time to comment and I need to pick at least 3, I am overwhelmed on a couple of different levels. First it’s the sheer number. Depending on the time I check in there could be anywhere from 12 to 149. As I scroll up and down I look for titles that call to me. I try to find at least one person whose slices I haven’t read yet at all and leave a comment. Perhaps like the teacher I am, I regret that I won’t get to comment on more. I feel a little guilty that I’m not taking on 6 or 10 or more. But time is limited and I need to be realistic about what’s doable, so I stick to 3 -5. Done.
The other thing, is that as I scroll through the many profile pics, I am struck with how white and female this collective is. There are very few people of color that I can readily identify based on those micro pics and I also know that this is largely representative of the field of Language Arts teachers in North America. And while I appreciate the work of several educators in this community and elsewhere incorporating anti-racism and anti-bias work into their curricula and book selections, I cannot ignore that feeling I get of being one of so very few.
And there’s the hesitation to say anything at all. To not want to put a damper on all the good vibes we’ve already created in 10 days or for some, over several years. Why rain on anyone’s parade? So what if the group is almost all white women? Who’s to say that that’s not one of the strengths of this particular community? And from someone who fits in so seamlessly, who am I to make waves, throw stones or rock the boat? (mixing my metaphors like cocktails, this morning.)
Alas, there’s the rub. Who else notices this fact? Who else is wondering about why this is the case and how it might matter for what we do and think outside of this community? What if this community reflects the contexts that most members experience in their day to day lives? What if most of the white people in this group only know and talk to other white people?
What I want folks to understand is that this state of affairs has very real and concrete consequences for how we understand and interpret events and experiences. Talking about race is uncomfortable for a lot of folks. It hatches all kinds of difficult feelings including guilt, shame, anger, defensiveness, helplessness. So many of us avoid it like the plague if we can. So on day 10 of the slice of life challenge, I want to offer a challenge to all of my fellow slicers:
During this month, if you are willing, please talk a bit about race and how it affects your life. An episode, memory, an insight, a book you read, a class you took, a conversation you had – whatever you are willing to share. Tag me on Twitter @edifiedlistener or send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have the benefit of community here. Please let’s use it to grow ourselves in multiple ways. Talking about race is necessary and critical. We have an opportunity. I wonder how we will use it. Thanks for hearing me out. I appreciate your being here.