What a week. I honestly don’t even think I have words. I certainly know that I don’t have my thoughts straightened out. What I do know, however, is that I’m blessed to be in a profession that gives me the opportunity to combat racism each and every day.
Nearly one in 10, or 9.6 percent, of black children (ages 3-17) has a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder, compared to 7.8 percent of white children and 6.9 percent of Hispanic children
Boys ages 3-17 are more likely than girls to have a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder (9.6 percent compared to 5.7 percent). [source]
Each day that I go to work, I’m directly impacting an individual that could grow up to be George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. Not only am I in a position to impact their academic, social, and life skills, I’m also in a position to love them fully and fearlessly. I’m in a position to be an advocate for them and their futures. I’m in a position to recognize their inherent worth as an image-bearer of God. I’m in a position to fight for them daily, in small, unseen ways.
When the Black Lives Matter movement began, it was my experience as a public school SLP that helped shape the narrative for my husband. It was my experience as a public school SLP that helped open my eyes to the reality of what was happening around me.
Amidst the myriad of ways that we can join in solidarity and become an ally (which are good and right and valid and necessary), I’m even more so reminded that what I do daily matters. How I do my job matters. There are days when to do the job well seems overwhelming and futile and meaningless. And to be sure there are days when I have to choose to let some things go for my own mental health, for my family, etc… But, on the whole, when I do my job well, and you do your job well, we can affect change. All of us, both those who dedicate themselves to the small and unseen as well as those who dedicate themselves to the grand and visible, will affect change. Everyone working together in the space that they’ve been given “will be like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains.”
The above is from my weekly newsletter on June 5, 2020. I’ve been mulling over events of past weeks and the world’s current reactions, with my mind constantly turning back to my students. I’m eager to see students from last year and to meet those I don’t know yet. I love them and I’m blessed to walk alongside them in life.
Most of them are black males.
I’m a white woman.
In our current climate, what challenges and opportunities does this fact present?
Only time will tell, to be honest. Even making a collective statement such as “most of them are black males” feels a little off to me. Yes, they are, in fact, black males. But each of them are also unique individuals, with their own challenges and their own blessings. Each of them need and want something different. On a clinical level, of course, but on a personal level as well. I want to be able to look at systemic racism through their eyes as part of a collective group, while also looking into their individual eyes to know and understand them as people, as unique bearers of God’s image in this world, with unique gifts and talents and purposes for its betterment. I want to help dismantle the oppressive systems that keep them down while advocating for and building them up in the ways they need individually.
I want to help enable them to go forth into this world with all the purpose and beauty they were created to carry with them.
Below, I am going to share links to perspectives on the educator’s role in this task, as well as resources that could be helpful as we engage in this fight. I’ll do my best to add to it over time. There are, of course, many, many lists, and many, many ways we can join in as allies. My aim here is for resources specifically tailored to those of us in education. Please, share additional resources as you find them.
Also, please note that sharing these resources does not necessarily indicate absolute agreement or endorsement. Resources change over time and the perspectives on this topic are expansive. I believe we have to think critically about the best ways to address racism in our classrooms and therapy rooms and following any resource to the letter is likely not the best way. Rather, these are simply ideas for educators that we can consider and judge as we make decisions for how to change what we do daily to include conversations about racism and injustice.