32 before 32- Lesson 17: Stand for Something

I will not be the first to tell you that the year 2020 has changed me in dramatic ways. One of the recurring lessons that I have seen on display time and time again has been the importance of taking a stand. In the past I have written about the miscarriages of justice seen in Minnesota and Kenosha, WI. This post come to you on the heels of Kentucky Attorney General determining that one of the three officers would be “charged” with the murder of Breonna Taylor of Louisville. I use “charged” because the officer, whom I am intentionally not naming, was indicted for three counts of wanton endangerment. It becomes tiresome to have the mentality of “here we go again” whenever there’s instances like this, but I take solace in the fact that I’m trying to help with the voice of someone who has been rendered voiceless.

I want to be clear with you for a second: there is no valor in sitting on your hands or playing the wait and see game. Harsh as this may sound, when you live in one the most technologically advanced nations in the world, when you witness clear instances of injustice towards a group of people month in and month out, when you are aware of the history that exists to allow those injustices to stand, playing the safe game is not a choice. My lesson today is titled “Stand for Something”, does this mean that you should only stand for racial injustice? No. What standing for something has taught me in the year 2020 is how you use your platform, no matter how small it is, to bring awareness to something you care about. Standing for something does not have to look like threads of meaningless arguments over social media. I am guilty of getting into meaningless arguments over social media. I have no idea if these arguments are even worth it any more because the only gains I see are stress to myself and my anxiety levels spiking. I am not perfect or the most knowledgeable, but I make it clear where I stand on societal issues. Many people don’t engage in social media outbursts, and that’s fair. Many people don’t look for opportunities to argue about their beliefs, and that is fair. But having a stance on any of the myriad of issues plaguing our society has to be a personal undertaking by every educated adult.

I want to leave you with a quote that I was given a number of years ago when I was a preservice teacher. I was attending an education conference in Milwaukee that featured several local teachers from successful schools. One of those speakers dropped a pearl that I still fall back on to this day. The quote came from a man name Mark (Mr. G) who taught 2nd grade in the inner city of Milwaukee. This is relevant because a) men teaching primary grades is a very rare sight b) he was very good at his job and a bit of a local legend. He said something along the lines of this:

Some people say that urban education is a lot like spitting into the ocean. I am here to tell you that if that’s the case; then spit further.

Mr. G c.2010

The analogy of course being that much like spitting into the ocean, teaching in the inner city does not make any great difference. Mr. G encourages us to spit further into the ocean because if we get enough people “spitting” then eventually there will be change that needs to be experienced. Standing up for something that you believe in is similar to spitting in the ocean. You may not think you’re making a huge difference, but you have to continue to spit. Eventually, more people will join in, all you have to do is have the encouragement to stand up.

Spit Further my friends!


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