“I’m Going to wander downtown,” my aunt informed me. I considered the option. Or reaLly, the opportunity? SeverAl days before New Year’s, it would be a stroll through the reimagined bricks and post-Christmas product hovering behind the glass. Window shoppers. Window shopping. With the holiday behind us, what else would we be doing but wandering? Unless our dreams are a different dream. Not winter wonderlands and Santa’s list, but. . .
“. . . what MLK dreamt it to be, where equality is accepted as truth, and difference and experience are both welcomed and embraced, we must look at sameness and uniformity as the chief enemy of any progressive society. If everybody is trying to be like somebody they are not, and if the system of education is hell-bent on making everyone into a version of excellence that is about sameness, we will remain as we are, swimming in inequity, struggling to make connections with young people and their communities, paying lip service to social justice and cultural relevance, and maintaining the status quo.” (14)
Those who had purpoSe, made lists. Those who had relationships, made others’ lists. All had been and gone in the weeks before the frozen over new year's start to last year's schedule caught in the middle. I closed my eyes to see a separate kind of filter, not dirty screen and paint smudged ledges but crisp, clean window glaSs.
“Unfortunately, schools assault authenticity just as fervently as they embrace socialization. “It’s not just that everyone is being forced to look, act, talk and move in similar ways through schools, it is that teachers and their students are being stigmatized for stepping out of roles that have been defined for them. . . It is in these school that lines from MLK’s speeches and quotes about equality get weaponized against teachers and used as justifications for teaching that stifles creativity and undermines authenticity.” (15)
I considered the option. Or really, the opportunity? But not in terms of recreation, necessity nor economy. THis walk would consist of glass both as windows and mirrors. I could read them and myself as pages hung in chapter's of Emdin's recent book.
Leading sidewAlks. Short steps. Long looks. Window glass.
CHAPTER 1-Dr. White CHAPTER 2-Oreo
Belonging and unbelonging.
CHAPTER 3-Ratchet as a Tool CHAPTER 4-Ratchet as Being and Freeing
CHAPTER 5-Elevators, Haters and Suckas CHAPTER 6-Cages and conditioning
Distortions. Divides Thin?
CHAPTER 7- Clones CHAPTER 8-Soul Wounds and White Gauze
On those storefront streets, the crowds surge despite overspent budget and missing destinations. Why wouldn’t They? Hallways more free to browsers than those hung with the skins woven to be worn as education.
A way of being. Way of searching.
CHAPTER 9-Frenemies and Energy CHAPTER 10-Toward Healing: A Cure for Imposter Syndrome
Limited choices. Unlimited.
CHAPTER 11-The Get Back CHAPTER 12-Restitution Over Rescue Mission
Mirrors with missing colors. Reflections through erased lines.
“The ‘I Have a Dream’ speech that those in power use to silence and paralyze young people and their teachers specifically states that ‘we can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and dignity.’ When we don’t consider teaching for equality to be about selfhood and dignity, signs that said ‘Whites only’ during segregation get replaced by ‘Whites only’ curriculum. . . By denying authentic expressions of self and teaching youth that their purpose in life is to pursue ‘better’ versions of themselves, they never learn that the skin they are in and the experiences of their ancestors that they hold in their genetic code makes them innately brilliant and powerful.” (16)
Still, even the tiniest accessories can be worn and added, gifted as we discover the missing pieces others encourage us to cherish instead of forget, or removed instead of clinging too tightly on wriSts as weighted shopping bag handcuffs. These bits move us beyond the broader swaths of styles and colors.
“For far too many people in the field of education, the version of themselves that I am calling for is completely unfamiliar or tucked so far away from who the public sees that it is hard to retrieve when they are in the classroom.” (17)
A midafternoon stroll was the ideal opportunity for the limited hours, but I didn’t go. I didn’t even ask to go. Instead, I chose something else that frames windows and mirrors, a not quite introduction, a first chapter, not a new one of what steps I take next. But most importantly I shattered glass for both the beauty of the cut not quite a diamond and the slice into the whiteness of my skin.
Emdin, Christopher. (2021). Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success. Beacon Press: Boston.