By Paul Stein
We were awakened just a few days ago to news of the deadly, racist massacre in Buffalo. Perhaps “awakened” is the wrong verb. That’s because, in spite of the cries of shock, anger and outrage, it seems that America has fallen asleep at the wheel as racist conspiracy theories have seeped into the mainstream.
Who can’t but feel saddened by the lives so senselessly cut down and by the fresh wounds atop the layered scars of white supremacy? It is enough to leave one speechless. Yet we cannot be silent lest it be misunderstood as acquiescence.
We, as educators, have a special responsibility. Most simply, it is to reach out to students and let them speak out.
It is to listen, to provide developmentally appropriate opportunities to engage in safe, meaningful conversations, and to put events in historical context. It is to build our students’ confidence in themselves and in knowing that they can make a difference. It is to model inclusive practices and integrate those practices into the fabric of our schools.
Only in these ongoing ways can we have a true “awakening.”