Tag Archives: justice

Sometimes I Want To Not Care

I have a secret. Sometimes I want to not care about things happening in our world today. It would be easier. I’d have more time for fun. I could be frivolous at will. Maybe I would live in the moment more easily than I do now. Certainly, it would be a relief to live in a bubble free from deep thoughts and anything unpleasant that didn’t directly affect me. Society’s problems would not disappear, but it wouldn’t matter because as a member of the white population in the United States I’m super privileged.

But this indifference to others is not me. I hope for a more peaceful world, and understand that I need to actively participate to create change in it. I care beyond what’s happening in my immediate world.

I care so much it makes me cry tears of rage and sorrow when yet another white male perpetrates a school shooting and kids are killed in the line of fire or while protecting their classmates. The papers call the murdered ones heroes, but that’s not the right word – martyrs would be better. We don’t have to continue our complicity and keep allowing our children to be murdered in mass shootings. We can change the laws by providing better access to (and quality of) mental health care and limiting gun rights in the name of public safety. The Florida legislature’s response (besides its usual thoughts and prayers) to all this of arming teachers – it will not help. Kids deserve and need to feel safe and protected at school. If their teachers are carrying, they are inherently unsafe. Guns do not belong in classrooms with students.

Another facet of education that I wish I didn’t care about is the world of high-stakes testing. My kids aren’t old enough for the FSA, and the incredible pressure that comes along with it. I feel anxious for their future selves because I know how terrible it feels to bomb a single test that determines whether you get to move on to the next grade (or get into a top tier law school). I am a mediocre test taker when only given one shot to prove myself. I may know the material backwards and forwards, but my anxiety causes me to freeze up, misread questions, and panic. And I’m an adult. Now think about how kids feel when faced with the FSA.

We fail our students when we submit them to testing that is designed in the name of education reform but is truly created to destroy the great equalizer that is public education. Tests are rigged so a certain percentage of students fail, which allows the government to label schools as failing. Parents rightfully become upset and begin looking for a way out through vouchers and for-profit charter schools that are publicly funded with our tax dollars (siphoning off money from public school systems) but with less (or no) public oversight. I have family and friends who send their kids to these programs because they view the public schools as broken. They aren’t wrong. They want what’s best for their children. We all do. But as a collective society, if some kids are slipping through the cracks it is our duty to look out for them and lift them back up.

The current inequity in our public schools is astounding, but it can be fixed. Rozella Haydée White’s new book, Love Big: The Power or Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World, contains a roadmap for seeking peace through moving toward justice. She “define[s] justice as equitable access to resources that provide people with the ability and agency to create a life of meaning. Working toward justice requires dismantling any system, ideology, or institution that promotes inequity….Justice becomes a reality when we recognize that we need one another. When we become justice seekers and peace bearers we recognize that our lives are inextricably linked. What one person does, thinks, or even believes affects another.”

“What if we practiced the belief that we belong to one another daily?”~Rozella Haydée White

As I read her words, it clicked that I have been actively working through this philosophy of peace and justice through my membership with FAST. Over the past two years I’ve become increasingly involved with its youth suspensions and arrests committee where we have researched and learned that if restorative justice practices (RP) are properly implemented in our schools, students and teachers succeed. Behavior issues are handled with student accountability and compassion, giving kids a toolbox to deal with the big emotions they feel on the daily. This in turn allows teachers to spend more time teaching the material and keeps kids in the classroom versus being removed, suspended, or arrested for disciplinary issues. Teacher retention rates in schools using RP methods are higher (but we still need to pay them what they are worth, an entirely different battle).

Changing the culture in public education is difficult, but I truly believe RP is the real game changer into creating an inclusive culture where all students feel heard and wanted as assets in their classrooms. Because I truly believe this transformation needs to happen, I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone and feel uncomfortable. With FAST, I flew to Louisville to learn about RP from a school district that is effectively implementing the initiative. Earlier this year, I spoke directly to school board members not only at meetings but also in front of a crowd of 2500+. This scared me because I’m uncomfortable speaking in public…not only the everyone’s eyes on me part but also my need to deliver my message perfectly using the correct words with the proper gestures and presence. I want to convince people this matters, and I know my discomfort is nothing compared to what kids face at school. So I woman up, lean in, and demand change to make the system more equitable.

I’m not an expert in any of this. I’m a parent who believes that public schools offer the best chance for all kids to become the people they are meant to be. I care, and I want others to take responsibility in creating change, too. Don’t you?

Loving Our Immigrant Neighbor

For my birthday, Keith got me an ancestry.com DNA test because I’ve always been interested in seeing where my family originated from. My dad’s side of the family has been in the United States since before the Revolution, and so has some of my mom’s (my mom and grandma are big into genealogy and have looked into this.) But I wanted something more concrete, and there’s nothing as definite as DNA, right?

It turns out, my mom’s theory that we had a Native American relative could possibly still be true, but it did not show up in the testing. I’m not going to be on any television shows about surprise DNA discoveries – I’m as white as they come. My people hail from Western Europe, Scandinavia, and Great Britain for the most part, with a sprinkling of a few other European areas.

At some point, my people were immigrants. Across the board, my dad’s family were Mennonites seeking a place to practice their faith without persecution. My mom’s family were farmers and who knows what else, but they were still searching for a better life when they made the trip to America. I’m unaware of a pre-Revolutionary immigration system in the Colonies, so they didn’t violate any man-made laws to come here.

This country has a history of being unkind to immigrants. One of our very first laws were the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it harder to become a citizen and allowed the imprisonment and deportation of those the President deemed dangerous. We have repeatedly demonstrated our ill-will towards those coming to this country – unwanted groups have included the Irish, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexicans. We have continuously persecuted blacks first in the form of slavery, then with Jim Crow laws that kept life separate but incredibly unequal, and now with the prison industrial complex and many other ways.

White America others people of color because it is afraid of becoming the other. The Trump Administration’s policy has mandated the separation of parents from their children.

I think about my own young kids being forcibly separated from me and placed in a tender age shelter where they are not permitted to be touched by an adult. I picture Henry having to change Elliot’s diaper because a caregiver cannot do it. I hear their cries for mama and daddy when I hear the devastated screams of the kids currently being detained alone.

Our immigration system has been in need of a vast overhaul for years, but this is my breaking point. This is not okay. This is not Christian.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions forgot to include the most important part of Romans 13 when he used the text to justify the separation policy – Romans 13:10, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Love is what life is all about. God’s love for us and our love for others are vital to serving God’s will. Anything else is insufficient.

Micah 6:8 is probably my favorite verse…so much so that we named our firstborn Henry Micah because of it. It states, What does the Lord require of you? To do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Our government is wrong on immigration; they are acting in direct contradiction to the latter parts of this verse as well has God’s commandment to love.

We must demand they stop this atrocious practice. Donate to organizations actively helping the least fortunate – the ACLU, RAICES, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are great ones to consider. Contact your Representatives and Senators and demand change. Ask what they are actively doing to stop this practice. Ask follow up questions. Tell them you will continue to follow up on their action plans. Tell them these people matter because we love.

Because most of our ancestors were immigrants looking for a new and better life.

Because it is our duty to love our neighbor, no matter what.

Because we are commanded to treat them as if they are our loved one.

Because God loves us, no matter what.

What’s Next?

My blog revolves around raising my boys in the Tampa Bay Area. Mostly it provides an accounting of our weekly activities and milestones, which are similar to other stay-at-home-mom’s experiences. I like looking back to see Henry’s stats versus Elliot’s, and reminiscing over our field trips and vacations.

But growing a kid involves more than just play (which we definitely excel at doing). It requires teaching my boys to be kind to others as well as to stand up for (with) the oppressed. Henry’s middle name comes from the minor Old Testament prophet – Micah – who told the people of Israel what the Lord required of them to do good in the world: 

Seek Justice. 
Love Kindness.
Walk Humbly with God.

Micah 6:8

With this verse in mind, I’ve been formulating an Action Plan for myself to hold President Trump’s administration and the legislative branches of the federal government accountable for their actions. One part of my plan is to compile a list of three issues that matter to me each week. I’m doing my best to do my research, but I don’t have tons of time with two littles. Any help here would be greatly appreciated!
 
Using my issues list, I plan to call my senators and representative’s offices weekly to let them know my concerns (and praises). This is kind of a big deal for me because I HATE to talk on the phone. BUT making your voice heard is a key part of democracy in action, and speaking directly with someone in your legislator’s office is one of the best ways to let them know how you feel about an issue. Your legislators care about what you care about – it’s why they have jobs!
 
Finally, I’m holding myself accountable to doing this by posting here. I don’t care if anyone reads it (although I plan to share each new post like I usually do) because it helps me to write out my thoughts before verbally discussing them with others.

Talking Points This Week:

Vote No for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education (my friend, Rudy, an educator working on his PhD, has an excellent blog post on this topic)

  • No training or experience in education. 
  • She supports school choice privatization schemes, despite a lack of evidence they provide better education. 
  • She’s invested millions lobbying for laws that take money away from public schools.
  • She’s fought against regulating charter schools.

Vote No for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

  • Threat to civil rights
  • Republicans thought he was too racist to be a federal judge.
  • Supports voter identification laws, which are a form of voter suppression akin to poll taxes and literacy tests.

Vote No Against H.R. 193 – Restore American Sovereignty Act of 2017

  • This Bill would have the U.S. terminate its United Nations membership and prohibit the authorization of funds for UN peacekeeping or otherwise.
  • It’s a global world, and removing ourselves from the UN would be disastrous for everyone.

Contact Information for My Senators and Representative:
Sen. Bill Nelson – DC: (202) 224-5274 or Tampa: (813) 225-7040
Sen. Marco Rubio – DC: (202) 224-3041 or Tampa: (813) 287-5035 
Rep. Charlie Crist, FL-13 – DC: (202) 225-5961

This is only Phase 1 of my plan…stay tuned for more.


Miscellaneous Websites I’m Following Right Now:

  • Swing Left – https://swingleft.org/
  • Women’s March 10 Actions in 100 Days – https://www.womensmarch.com/100/
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice: Tampa Bay – https://m.facebook.com/SURJTampaBay/
  • Southern Poverty Law Center – https://www.splcenter.org
Books I’m Currently Reading With My Boys