I have spent the last two days in counseling.
Not me going to a counselor (though I have and will without shame or trepidation) but listening to and talking with others. A teacher at my job. A team of teachers at my job. three different female students. All of them leaking small droplets of hurt and frustration waiting to see if I could handle the upcoming deluge of pain. The women and girls in my life right now reek of sorrow and despair, not really recognizing that they need healing.
It is hard being black not because being black is innately challenging but because of the expectations placed on you because of being black. When you add to these unfair perspectives the daily grind that is life, you end up carrying unimaginable, unsharable burdens that you really do not want to bear.
The sadness weighs down on everything you see, say, experience, and do. The lens with which you view the world becomes cloudy and stained. Your very perception is foggy with tears that you cannot cry. The tremendous exertion taken just to hold yourself together puts you in a place where anything else is just too, too much. After you have spent all the effort you have trying to maintain, you finally fall apart.
What happens next means the difference between healing and falling down the rabbit hole of despair–how do people around you respond to your need?
In my work as an educator, I create safe spaces for people to cry and fall apart under a compassionate hand. I reserve my opinion for after I listen and feel the pain with you. I hug liberally and give the tsks and there-theres that are sorely lacking in classrooms across the country. I bleed with you, cry with you, and nurture you until you feel like you can face life again.
Life is hard for kids in general, for black children in particular, and urban black students most often. I have given my life in ministering to those whose pain I witness every day. In doing so, I believe I am paying it forward into the earth, leaving behind others who will one day create a protected environment where someone else can experience the healing of compassion.
I value above all else the idea of teaching children and not content. If I focus my energy on what happens to the child, the work will follow.