In the wake of the deaths of Jordan Edwards and Richard Collins, two more black boys left to a hashtag, the highlighting of accolades and posturing is more prevalent than ever.
By Erica Buddington
“Silence and uniformity are not reflections of a job well done.”
I said this to a former supervisor who’d walked into a class discussion earlier that day, students laughing and intrigued, flailing their arms to be the next person to speak. He shook his head, pointed to the text that the organization abided by, and repeated, “They should be quiet. They should have their hands folded, waiting their turn. They should all be looking directly at you. There were too many voices; there was too much laughter. It should be silent when I walk into your room. Children learn and understand, better this way. They become better citizens, this way.”
I watched his pointer finger hit the desk, a brown hand that had only filled out a principal fellowship application, after teaching for six months out of grad school. I’d been immersed in a classroom or learning space for almost a decade and I couldn’t fathom how someone, who claimed to be an advocate for our children, could be so closed-minded.
It is this same brown hand that would push a contract towards me, excited about my data from the past year, with $10,000 dollars added to my salary, a promise that I could have more autonomy over my classroom, and a plea to revitalize their performance arts. I smiled and pushed the contract back with my own brown hand, making it clear that there was no money or autonomy in the world that could make me treat our children like this.