Has racism by white people against Black people in this country hit a crescendo? Or is it simply a perpetuation — albeit now publicly consumable — of the same white supremacy we have seen in the United States for more than 400 years?
“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” —James Baldwin, author and civil rights activist
This is the perfect quote to describe my reaction to the recent events involving Black men that have taken place during quarantine: a constant state of rage, sadness and hopelessness. Perhaps being able to go out and converse with my friends and peers would help me cope with these events, but unfortunately that wouldn’t help with my healing.
It’s Feb. 28, the Friday before my due date and the last day with the students I have been learning along as a student-teacher. I have grown so attached to the students since I started two and a half months earlier. Even though it has been a process acclimating and learning the gears and grooves of everyday teaching at a charter school, I am thoroughly enjoying the uphill process. My timing is improving, lessons becoming smooth like jazz, and I even have some inside jokes with the students.
The thought of spreading or bringing home something that could be deadly is frightening. I worry about my family and friends. And I worry that my friends are under an unusual amount of stress from having to wear extra hats during a global pandemic and how that will affect them in the long run. I’ve been schooling my children at home for three years and worry often if I am enough for them.
On the sixth day of social distancing, I sat on my couch and finished rereading “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” which my AP literature class is — or was — studying. Even after teaching the novel for years, I still don’t get the title.
Near the end of the book, a hurricane whips and cracks against the cabin where Janie, Tea Cake and their friend Motor Boat are riding out the storm. Along with the people in the other cabins surrounding them, “[t]hey seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”
For a book so invested in exploring the individual and her relationship to the community, this sudden turn to nature, catastrophe and God has always felt random to me. But perhaps that is the point. Because that is just how all life is — struck down by random turns of the divine.
Just over a month ago, my life was dedicated to lesson plans, critical theory and equitable grading practices.
Now is the time that reliable and expansive public health efforts, which have shut down this pandemic in other parts of the world, must be implemented in the United States. We need easily accessible, widespread testing for SARS-CoV-2, so that people with positive test results and minimal or no symptoms go into quarantine and do not infect other people unknowingly.
I bring up this example of terrible advice for what to do in case of an apocalyptic crisis because this is how I feel about much of the advice we are hearing — from a variety of voices — about how to educate students of Pittsburgh Public Schools [PPS] during the pandemic.
When news of the coronavirus first emerged, I listened cautiously. I knew my family would be working on the front lines, and I was worried about my boyfriend and me living in a bigger city like Washington, D.C.