The mind is a self-cleaning organ

Today, a friend of mine texted, asking what I’ve been doing all summer. My list was long, but it wasn’t exhaustive. I’m trying to de-fetishize my anxiety-driven busy-ness. Instead, I chose to emphasize all the learning I’m doing, which has created some really grounding and inspiring moments in this crazy, C-19 time.

Today I experienced 4 separate wonderfully joyful moments. First, I attended (through the absolutely wonderful Academy for Teachers) a workshop on using music to connect to activism and self-worth in the classroom.

Second, I attended a workshop led by folks at my new school–oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I have a new job!–around creating a more inclusive and course planning document.

Third, I went with a colleague and new friend at my new school to see the 5 p.m. porch concerts, which was a neighborhood Charles Mingus-style jazz jam with musicians that looked to range in age from 14 to 70.

Click to learn about the ongoing music-making, music-teaching,
and community in Ditmas Park.

Fourth, I hung out for a short bit with my beautiful mother. We looked at photos from an old photo album (how analog!), and it was so nice to see my mom looking young and vibrant and beautiful. She is still vibrant and beautiful, but her hair is white now. I’d forgotten how dark her hair was, and how cool she looked with dreds.

Finally, I spent some time today skimming through Ideas, Arrangements, Effects, a book that aims to unpack this idea: complex ideas like racism, capitalism, Marxism, and all the other big ideas) manifest in how spaces (literal, figurative, and/or social) are arranged, and those (literal, figurative, and/or social) spaces affect people.

So much of what I see online attempts to use step-by-step, one-size-fits-all approaches to explaining how one goes about dismantling racist policies, as if fixing institutions that have been designed to maintain classist, racist, and elitist hierarchies is as easy as disassembling a piece of IKEA furniture. That’s ridiculous. It’s like saying that one can fix an abusive family dynamic by agreeing to hug one another once a day. To fix a harmful family dynamic, you need a framework. Fixing a harmful societal dynamic requires AT LEAST that much.

Here’s a quote from the book that is sticking with me (pg. 46):

As humans, we are prone to thinking “I-P-E” or Ideas-PEOPLE-Effects. That means we tend to look for whom we can blame when we experience negative effects. This leads us to believe that effects emerge from the deficiencies of individuals, rather than flawed arrangements. Think about when you are waiting in line for a bus that’s late, and everyone gets a little mad at everyone else. It is really easy to get irritated with the person who is talking too loud on the phone, or pushing, or who smells bad. But we tend not to ask the bigger questions about why there aren’t more buses, why the roads are so crowded, or why more people can’t walk to where they need to go.

Emboldened emphasis is mine. “Arrangements” appears to be a friendlier version of the word “systems.”

As I think about the exclusive ways that many schools are run, I’m hoping that reading this book (perhaps with this book group!) will help me get my mind around dismantling racism in schools and in my new, virtual classroom. There’s so much to unpack within my understanding of school and within myself.

Tomorrow, I will attend the last installment of the BIPOC in PWI series put on by ArtEquity. I learned about that through someone I met at the (virtual) Step Up 2020: Moving Racial Equity Forward Conference in Snohomish County, WA. Sharing resources is the BUSINESS. Lift as we climb.

Speaking of which, while listening to a recent playlist on Spotify (I keep looking but can’t figure out which one), I came across Burna Boy. Yes, I’m late to this particular pop star party, but I was moved. I mean, literally moved. I was dancing. It’s been so long since a pop song made me feel COMPELLED to dance. It didn’t make me WANT to dance. I just found myself bopping along while listening, dancing in the street, singing along (to the degree that I thought I knew the words, which I see (according to the video below) that I most certainly DID NOT).

Here it is:

Now you try sitting still!

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