Friday, June 19, 2020


A few thoughts on the history of Juneteenth, what really happened after people under enslavement were freed, and the current state of policing of Black communities by white cops:

1) June 19, 1965 was TWO YEARS AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation

2) In the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln allows many states to keep their slaves as long as they pledge alliance to the North. These states were allowed to keep their slaves until the 13th Amendment was ratified.

3) The 13th amendment (which STILL allows for legal slavery of folks in prison - many of whom are POCs who've been funneled into the system at a young age for profit) wasn't ratified until December 6, 1865 (six months after the Galveston, TX announcement).

4) Even after they were freed, these free men and women were told on that day in Galveston "to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere" ("Juneteenth". Texas State Library and Archives Commission). Basically, they were freed then immediately told that if they don't continue to work for their former masters (but, for pay, so it's ok), relax anywhere (where they'd be deemed "idle"), or if they try to get anywhere near the guns (after they're brothers in the North had actually fought for the military), they'll be harassed by cops.

5) Since Lincoln was shot four months after the Proclamation, Andrew Johnson came into power and he was a big supporter of state's rights. The Civil Rights Bill (which Johnson vetoed, but was overrode) was established in 1966, and the backlash was that the southern states instituted "black codes" which are essentially the start of Jim Crow. Examples of the "black code" is that free Black people had to sign yearly labor contracts (at the low wages employers were willing to give); if they refused, they risked being arrested, fined and forced into unpaid labor, or laws prohibiting Black people from holding any occupation other than farmer or servant unless they paid an annual tax of $10 to $100. In addition, so-called “anti-enticement” measures were designed to punish anyone who offered higher wages to a black laborer already under contract. These codes were enforced by all-white police and militias made up of former Confederate veterans.

6) The North sent in troops to ensure "a period when they [Black folks, though men only] were allowed to vote, actively participate in the political process, acquire the land of former owners, seek their own employment, and use public accommodations" ("Civil War and Reconstruction." Library of Congress.) They were also supposed to provide safety to feed people from angry white mobs during this Reconstruction period. This is the period in which the KKK was formed. Despite the passage of the 14th ("equal protection" in 1867) and 15th (the right to vote in 1870) were passed, southern states didn't follow these Federal laws.

7) As soon as the troops were recalled in 1877, angry white mobs (many of which were led by the already formed KKK) immediately burned black businesses, lynched men in governing positions, and generally incited fear in free communities. This type of fear policing has not stopped since.

White policing of Black communities has been entrenched in US culture for so long, that when videos clearly show people being shot who aren't even resisting arrest (often for false reasons) the White populace sees justification.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Why Teachers Need a Summer Break

I've often heard that teachers have it easy with all their vacation time. Why do teachers need summer break?

This is what transpired in ONE class period (65 minutes) today:

I start the class with a full bladder because I had so many student questions from the exiting students of the last class and from incoming students for the next class, that I haven't had a chance to run to the toilet that's only three classes away.

I'm short two chairs because some other teacher borrowed them and didn't return them or leave a name, so I have to assign a student to go scavenge.

The students are writing their first literature analysis essay, so almost all of the 25 students need one-on-one consultations. There's no time for this, so I have to do a quick assessment of their status, then give a quick editing task that I'll check on after I consult with the next student, and continually circle back to give the next task.

I'm simultaneously grading their work as I'm doing the consultations because the school has insisted that we need a ridiculous number of grades in the system to prove to parents that we're teaching. I calculated the number of assessment grades they want times the time it takes to grade everything as Summatives (vs. Formatives, i.e. ungraded draft work) times the number of students in the class and it averaged 30 hours a week, just on grading. So I'm entering grades on their drafts as I consult with each student.

Late students arrive and there's discussion because they don't have passes.

Unmotivated or confused students will stop working and chat with their neighbors who were working, so I have to stay aware and on top of this behavior to keep kids on track.

Students need to use the restroom, so I have to keep track of who's gone and how long they've been gone to ensure they're not wandering the halls.

Remember, I’m still doing writing consults as all this extra activity is happening.

Students have an argument about a stolen pen that nearly results in a physical fight, so I need to get them calmed and back to working.

I have a brand new student show up who's missed the first 1.5 months of class, but needs to be caught up, which I cannot possible do during class, so I send him to the library to get one of the extra textbooks I returned because supposedly we had stopped registering new students. But the library has no idea where the extra books went (according to the returned student), so I'm trying to dash out an email to the librarian to track them down while the students start lining up at my desk to ask questions, instead of staying in their seats as requested, so that I can keep track of who I've worked with already and ensure all students get some attention during class, not just the eager ones.

I have a student who had behavior issues which has resulted in him missing school. This is the first time I've seen him in two weeks, so I'm catching him up on the whole essay process (one that took two weeks of assisted classwork to get this point) when the school head comes in and takes him out of class halfway through the discussion, so he'll be even further behind now.

The nurse comes in and out, taking batches of students to check their hearing, which requires getting all students attention, stopping their work, then helping the nurse get the right students... for every batch she comes to get. Remember, I’m still trying to do essay consulting with 25 students in 65 min.

Some students want to rewrite their outline worksheet, but other students have taken all my extra copies, so I'm trying to print more from my personal printer because I can't leave the students alone in class to make more.

Then the bell rings with several students who haven't had time to talk to me, so they clamor for a minute of time and I have to quickly schedule after school meetings. By the time I've finished, I'm about to run to the toilet that I had to use at the beginning of class.

Then the bell rings for the start of the next class.

That's one class - one hour of my day. Now imagine doing that for 4 periods in a row with only a 30-minute lunch break (which is actually 20 since students stay 5 min after class and come in 5-min before to ask questions, during which, I'm at my desk scrambling to check emails that have accumulated during the last 3 teaching periods while I stuff lunch down my throat. As soon as class four is over, I start doing the rest of my job: planning/running after-school clubs, working on the school's yearbook, contacting parents of failing students, arranging meetings, coordinating with fellow teachers for co-teaching shared classes, creating a homeroom curriculum, checking up on department functionality as HOD, completing field trip request forms, coordinating a peer-to-peer training program, and... you get the idea.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Racially Profiled Child Abuse

The official stats on rape are wrong. I know this because I know so many women who haven't reported their attacks. Hell, I had a roommate in college who didn't even know she was raped, i.e. she called it something else until her other roommate and I explained that it's still rape, even if he was a friend before the incident. Literally EVERY SINGLE WOMAN I know has had some degree of unwanted sexual touch in her life. #metoo was the first time this subject was publicly addressed, and it is shocking how many people (men) don't want to believe it.

This morning, I tried to find statistics on how many black boys are harassed by cops at a young age. I couldn't find any, yet every black man I know has a story about their first harassment by cops for simply existing. One friends's face was pushed onto a cop car hood under a white cop's grip for trying to buy a toothbrush. He was eight at the time. The other stories aren't much different. Sometimes physical, sometimes verbal. Pejoratives are often used. Their voices always change when telling their story... it cracks, it becomes strained, the throat tightens with anger and shame. Imagine this being your experience after school has told you that cops are the people to go to when you're in danger. Imagine the confusion and fear. I found articles about Black adult interactions with cops, but nothing about the rates of child abuse by cops. And yes, it's RACIALLY PROFILED CHILD ABUSE. I wonder if #BLM made these stories a part of their public protests, how many white people would still not believe that the Black community is under attack from the very beginning of life.

All oppressions are intersected. You cannot fight for one and not the others.