“We are tired of the killings and injustice.” What can be clearer? What can be more reasonable? Those are the words of George Hill of the Milwaukee Bucks when asked why he and his teammates decided to boycott their scheduled NBA Playoff Game on Wednesday. These are young men deciding to walk away from not just the game they love but also from their livelihood. Many of these young men are fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing professional basketball. But they, like countless others, are tired of the killings and the injustice. It’s reasonable to expect that after all the media attention, protests, conversations, tears, sweat, and countless organizations claiming a renewed commitment to racial justice that one would give serious pause to shooting a Black man in the back. Yet here we are again. 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police officers while entering the driver’s side of a vehicle with his children in the back seat. Thank you, Milwaukee Bucks, for not playing, for not defaulting to business as usual. There is a lot in our country to disagree about, but it’s hard to imagine how anyone cannot be tired of the killings and injustice. This has to be bipartisan, one cannot say that there are two sides to these senseless and too often lethal shootings.
Most would agree that one of the hallmarks of a successful civil society is an expectation that people will follow the law. But what about the presence of unjust laws—those that are morally reprehensible, discriminatory, dehumanizing, and privileges one group over others? They present an interesting dilemma, especially since one aim of civic education is to teach students to be good law-abiding citizens.
Bringing current events into the classroom creates some very interesting challenges for teachers. The classroom is a community of diverse people with diverse stories, experiences, and points of view. The teacher is not just an instructor but also a member of the community with their own stories, experiences, and points of view. How do educators navigate their own personal feelings while creating safe space for students to share? How do educators walk the fine line between teaching and telling, between educating and indoctrinating? These are important questions educators must grapple with when charged with creating social and emotional safe spaces for discussing current events.
It could have been me. In fact, it could have been any of us. By us, I mean the people all over this world who enter churches, synagogues, mosques, and other sacred places of worship to study, to pray, to listen, to sing, and sometimes even to mourn.
It can be so very difficult to discuss race with our children.
The conversation is particularly complex when it's about some of our nation's not-so-proud moments.Rather than face such moments head-on, sometimes we instead seek to protect our children (and even ourselves) from the pain and shame of the past, and so we often gloss over physical, emotional, and psychological suffering in history to get to a more palatable, less troubling version of those events. Moments like 1965 in Selma, Alabama, too quickly become "the victory of voting rights" rather than the painful history of a tired, yet determined, African American community that stood toe-to-toe against those who used terror, intimidation, and unjust laws to deny them opportunity to freely exercise the right to vote.
As I prepared to write this post, I had to confront the most difficult, yet most important, person that I would be in conversation with: myself.