Updated: Nov 25, 2020
So many of us are screaming for change, but we don’t want to do the work it takes to create that change. I know that for a long time, I was one of those people who kept waiting for someone else to make the change happen. A couple years ago, I started making some changes of my own; I started listening to more people of color, I started reading books about social justice, sexual harassment, and disabilities. I couldn’t get enough: podcasts, books, audiobooks, articles, anything I could get my hands on. However, just changing my own viewpoint was not enough. I wanted to create change in my school, among my colleagues, and among my administration. Maybe I was “too soon.”
My dad and I recently had a conversation about just that. He said to me, “I have the privilege of seeing several generations older and several generations younger than mine.” In fact, it wasn’t until we had this conversation that I realized we all have that ability, but it was what he said next that has been crawling around in my mind. My dad spoke to me about my grandfather, He said, “My father, Lorraine, was a racist. As he got older, he softened, but he had a lot of negative perceptions about people of color. I am learning myself, that I too am racist. I don’t want to be, and I try to see things differently, but I have so much of that in me. You and your siblings are so different, and I don’t know why - I didn’t teach these things to you, in fact I am afraid I taught you other things, but look at what you are doing now - you are doing things I would never believe you could do, and you are not afraid.” I told him, “I am afraid, Dad. Change is hard, and while I want it, and I want to do what I can to create change, I am not sure I have an audience who wants the same thing.” He continued, “Look at your children, they don’t see what I see, or what my father saw, I am so inspired by them and that generation. Maybe the work you are doing is for me and my generation. Are you TOO SOON?”
Too soon?!? I turned 45 years old in 2020, why is the work that I want to do to educate people about the challenges we face in society viewed as “too soon?” My father is right - the people whose approval I need to do the work I want to do in schools also seem to want change, but not at the cost of their comfort, and that is the struggle.
But this is not “too soon!”
Our students are suffering from mental health issues, and even more now that we are in greater isolation. Our students are being exposed to sexual behaviors at far younger ages, and we eliminate sexual health programs left and right. Our students are growing up without a place to talk about the questions they have about race related issues.
When are we going to be ready to give them the tools they need to be better equipped to handle these changes? Students needed study skills years ago, but now they are not struggling because of the lack of study skills, they are struggling because they don’t have time to study or use those skills.
We have to give them more, and the system or our fear of exposing them to topics is not a good enough reason not to give them a safe space to talk about them. We will get things wrong, but if we care about them, that will be enough.
It’s time for change, and I am ready, I want to welcome anyone who views themselves as a leader to step out of your zone of privilege and see ways to start changing this world. It honestly can’t change without growing pains, and it won’t change without us, even if we’re afraid of that change, CHANGE is needed.