Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Photo by Jamelle Bouie 2014

August 9, 2014
A black boy is dead
a black boy is dead,
and a black boy is dead and
still another
black boy is dead

November 25, 2014
another black boy's life--

And fire erupted
across the nation
blazing in the hearts
of those so long
pushed to the wrong side
of the law
held under the prisons
of prejudice
while constitutional rights
beg for a chance
to rule for all
to serve all
to indict
the injustices
the ignorances
the ugly
truths that taint
our nation
our world,

But another black boy
is dead..
and  again and still
nobody bears the burden
of guilt.


By now we have all read the news, seen the images, had the conversations and arguments with our family, our friends, our co-workers, and, perhaps, even some folks that we don't know or even like much.

We have pontificated on social media,  commented on the comments, shared links and....cried.

We have talked to our children and their children.

We have reminded our black sons and nephews and little cousins to move slowly, keeping their hands always in view, announcing when they need to move to reach ID, or for whatever  they have been asked to reach.

We have reminded them to remain polite--- non-threatening.

What do we say now?

What conversation do we have now?


How do we explain a twelve-year-old carrying a toy gun shot down before the police car even stops to see he is a child or if the gun if real or if...?

How do we comfort our sons as they navigate a gauntlet of prejudgments and barriers?

How do we read and write this difficult yet familiar time?


There has been much written and blogged and published and even drawn about Ferguson specifically, and the ever-growing unchecked actions of some police officers, in general.

I am offering here a small sampling of texts and readings revealing a variety of perspectives that may push your conversations to the next level.

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald Columnist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2004,  always hits the nail with the right hammer. His recent  columns offer thoughtful reflections on recent events.

The Meaning of White Privilege 12/2/14

Let's Talk About Black-on-Black Violence 11/29/14

The Rules are Really Different for Blacks Seeking Justice 11/25/14

And as we think about the notion of white privilege, Nathan W. Pyle, writing for Buzzfeed, shares a graphic lesson  presented by a teacher illustrating  this concept for his students in This Teacher Taught His Class a Powerful Lesson About White Privilege 11/21/14

While many are loudly protesting I am not a racist, I don't see color, Racism is dead-- we have a black president... we need to consider this supposed-color-blindness, this new" racism without racists."

 Is there such a thing? What does racism actually look like in 2014?

Two books help us examine these ideas of 21st century racism..


What conversations do we encourage in our classrooms?

Many have posted resources and lessons that can help promote reflective, constructive, and agentive talk.

Mary Hendra has posted suggestions for fostering civil dialogue as we engage in difficult discourse.

A multitude of excellent educational resources are available at the following must-know- must-use sites:

Teaching about Ferguson at the Zinn Education Project

Students are Watching Ferguson and Talking with Students About Ferguson and Racism  at Teaching

Teach About Mike Brown, But Don't Stop There and "This is a Test": Educating to End the School-to-Grave Pipeline in Ferguson and Beyond at Rethinking

Who needs to be talking and thinking about these issues?  We all do--black, white, young, old, rich, poor...we all do.

I was tagged by a colleague on Facebook in this thoughtful and provocative reflection, We, White Teachers of Mostly White Students,We Have a Lot of Work to Do  from the blog Crawling Out of the Classroom.

This discussion needs to spill out of the classrooms into our community institutions, especially our places of worship.  My own denomination (as yours may also ) offers  several helpful resources that can be used  not only by our congregations, but in the larger community, as well.

And finally, I again offer  the post I wrote in response to the killing of Michael Brown-- Open Season on Black Men.  It includes additional resources that may also  help heal and comfort, as well as offer strategies and solutions.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Read at least three different pieces on Ferguson,  specifically,  or racism in general.

Write a reflective essay presenting more than one perspective.

Write a poem or choral reading including several voices.

Write a letter to child  Ferguson helping her understand the complex issues..

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