Today was the first day in a long time that I needed my alarm to wake me. Without it, I would have missed my morning workout and been late for work. Sometimes, I need something to wake me.
I’ve come to view this social construct of ‘wokeness’ as a process more than as a state of being. For me, ‘woke’ exists as the disquiet state of cogitating, listening, engaging and acting. It’s a process that changes me and my world. I don’t consciously work at being ‘woke’, I have too much work to do the fit into trendy terms and just like ‘ally’ and ‘diversityJedi’, I don’t see ‘woke’ as a term to apply to one’s self. You don’t try, you just do.
Besides, I don’t feel woke right now!! I am tired. I’ll have to do a post at some point on the Sibert Award and what it’s like being on an ALSC media award committee. Bottom line: it’s stress. Stress definitely alters my alertness. I’m back to work after my 6 month sabbatical, back showing up at the office every day with a few projects left to finish before I can fully jump into my librarianship. I appreciate the opportunity to ease back in because I’m using the time to research theories and practices that I’ll be implementing into my work. Right now, my job feels new to me.
I am tired too, because I was up late last night. I’ve been working to get into a daily routine with meal and sleep habits occurring at the same time each day. It’s a great way to regulate and maintain body systems, but it’s havoc when that routine changes. The concept of the routine (going to bed at the same time every night) makes me feel really old but I feel much more energetic when I practice it.
I was up late last night because I attended the annual Martin Luther King Day dinner here on campus. Our speaker was Joan Morgan, author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost. Morgan began her talk by announcing that she’d recently earned her PhD. This admission alerted me to the fact that this was not a traditional academic in front of us (one who only discloses so much) and I was thankful to her for acknowledging that to the young people in the room. They need to hear how few people have followed a straight line to their current position.
I didn’t tweet her talk; I rarely do that with anyone. But, her salient points stick with me. Tired though I might be, they’re acting like that alarm clock. First, she gently suggested that we let Dr. King rest. Second, Dr. Morgan reviewed the brief history of ‘triggers’ and ‘safe spaces’ and suggested it’s time we transgress to ‘brave spaces’. And finally, she charged the academics in the room with educating young people in a manner that breaks free from stuffing them into the codified jargon of their discipline and allow young people to produce information products that exceed the limits of the syllabus and then, pull them back in.
This weekend, we’ll here “I have a dream” more than we’ve heard it, well since this time last year. If that speech is your thing, consider this insight from Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul.
When I made it into work this morning (on time!!) I pulled up the next essay in the pile on my desk and it happened to be Dr. Django Paris’s work on cultural sustainable pedagogy. (Serendipity, I know.) Reading it brought greater meaning to what I’d just heard. His work seems to coincide with Dr. Morgan’s in that they both embrace hip hop epistemology; both citing the need to teach to the current culture which is based in heritages may not be what’s going to propel young people into brave spaces. 21st century education is supposed to be student lead. It’s enabled through technologies that center the ways they learn and communicate and it recognizes that they bring knowledge into the classroom.
King is part of our heritage. We need those shoulders to build on as alarms are going off around us. We can apply King’s work to environmental issues and we can march with @asees&Asheer, @HakabuyeHildaF, @Rgunns, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Autumn Peltier and Naelyn Pike and @gretaThunberg.
Or, look up some of his other works to begin to understand his philosophy in a new light. Did you know he considered committing suicide as a child after the death of his grandmother? This would be a great opportunity to discuss mental health and Black youth.
I’ve been using materials from Get More Brave in the syllabus I’ve created for Black Girl Magic. (Gotta change that name. Maybe Black Girl Sustainiblity) Our girls need to be braver. I think I’m trying to be their alarm clock. I think that’s what good educators should do. Wake them and plant a seed.
I’m still tired, need to get my lunch. I’m considering all this as ways I teach young people to read the world, particularly how to apply this to librarianship. Thoughts? I think Dr. Morgan was an alarm on campus yesterday. I hope no one hit the snooze button.