Read This: English Teachers Understand #BlackLivesMatter

The struggle of one group for equity and justice is not an either/or fallacy, nor is it a zero-sum game.

I am grateful that my professional organization, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has taken a thoughtful and public stand on the campaign #BlackLivesMatter.

Unlike some who have tried to dismiss or even attack the legitimate concerns of the Black community over increasing violence among and upon us, the NCTE leadership has put the issue in respectful perspective. I was particularly moved by the recognition that too often our classrooms become perpetuators of injustice rather than safe harbors.

Here’s a slice:

In this light, we call upon English educators to use classrooms to help as opposed to harm, to transform our world and raise awareness of the crisis of racial injustice. We call upon English education researchers to commit time to studying and disrupting narratives of racism rendered complexly in the substance of our profession. As an organization, we are committed to providing English educators with the tools, training, and support needed to build a more equitable system better able to serve the unique needs of all youth. In addition to the revolution on the ground, we seek a parallel revolution in curricula, instructional models and practices, assessment approaches, and other facets of education that would lead to a future free from the barriers of prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination, and bias. At the same time, we must pursue meaningful opportunities for all stakeholders to build their capacities for higher cognition, deeper compassion, elevated empathies, and greater acceptance.  [NCTE/CCCC Black Caucus]

The struggle of one group for equity and justice is not an either/or fallacy, nor is it a zero-sum game. As Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. reminded us, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  As teachers, we have a moral and professional obligation to prepare students to live and to contribute to our increasingly diverse nation and world. That preparation begins with our own respectful recognition.

I’m hoping other teacher organizations have followed or will follow NCTE’s lead in this direction.