Now it’s time to breathe.
With the recent events here in the U.S., many individuals, businesses, and corporations have spoken up about how they intend on supporting people of color. As a person of color, I have found myself distraught at times, angered at others, and even numb. On my personal socials, I have made comments, tried to have meaningful dialogue with both white and black peers, and tried to educate myself on all the issues. Eventually, this led to a discussion with my colleagues P. Sloan Joseph and Shalonda Blakeney.
We are part of a larger group that puts on EdCamp Greenville every year, but as black educators, we have sought comfort and solace within each other: sharing articles, memes, fears, and dreams. In the midst of all the sharing, we decided we needed to do more for individuals in schools that look like us. That’s when we decided to birth #BreatheEDU.
We arrived at this name with George Floyd’s haunting pleas echoing in our ears: “I can’t breathe.” This has turned into a rallying cry from the masses during the protests that have ensued over the past few weeks, much because it has been said by numerous black men murdered at the hands of police since Eric Garner in 2014. It is so much more than actual life-sustaining air entering and exiting the lungs. We began to think about our black and brown students who can’t breathe in our schools due to systemic racism and bias that has existed since integration. It’s because of this inability to breathe that we decided to facilitate a Twitter discussion where we encourage educators to inhale through meaningful discussion, research, and learning; and exhale life, growth, and progress that results in a racially inclusive learning environment for all students.
We will meet on Twitter every other Thursday at 7:30 pm EST for 30 in-depth minutes. Our discussions will be centered around resources we have found, and also those submitted by our chat attendees. Eventually, we will get into a book discussion, but we want to keep it light and conversational at first. We hope that as we begin this Thursday, the eve of Juneteenth, we will begin breathing understanding and hope into our schools and our nation.