Respect. Justice. Equality. Most of us aim to embody and enact these values in the work we do, in all our interactions, in all the spaces we inhabit. In a world of increasing inequality, these values demand much of us — especially white people in relation to racism.
The quote in the image above is from Audre Lorde’s ‘Learning from the 60s’, a speech she gave for Malcolm X Weekend at Harvard University in February 1982 (I include the text here again, for those who may be using screen readers):
Revolution is not a one-time event. It is becoming always vigilant for the smallest opportunity to make a genuine change in established, outgrown responses; for instance, it is learning to address each other’s difference with respect… The 60s should teach us how important it is not to lie to ourselves. Not to believe that revolution is a one-time event, or something that happens around us rather than inside of us. Not to believe that freedom can belong to any one group of us without others also being free.
The speech may be best known for its often-repeated phrase: “Revolution is not a one-time event“. I’ve always found the entire message powerful for its insistence that revolution/change begins within, and we must be “always vigilant for the smallest opportunity” to move beyond responses, behaviours and beliefs that no longer serve the greater good. A core belief for any educator, surely.
During the past week, I spoke with Terry Greene for Gettin’ Air, a podcast I love for its regular dose of inspiration from educators sharing their thoughts, ideas and values with respect to open education. Terry is a wonderful host, I enjoyed our conversation, despite some sound gremlins, and I didn’t get to share the above quote as I had hoped.
Aware that my antiracist work, within myself and in the world, is ongoing and a work-in-progress; aware that many in my network are committed to doing this work also; and aware also that ignorance, denial and upholding of structural racism remains a painful reality — as my voice is shared with Terry’s in this week’s podcast, I want to do three things:
Firstly, I honour Audre Lorde, who long after her death continues to inspire many and has been a vital part of my evolving feminist, antiracist, social justice education. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to read Audre’s work, especially Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches which contains the quote and speech above.
Secondly, I want to acknowledge all who work for justice always, and especially in the wake the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others at the hands of the police. I acknowledge all who are working to end the Direct Provision system and tackle racism more broadly here in Ireland. I will close this post with links to some of the groups and individuals whose work I have read and shared recently. Let the sharing not end with retweets alone, but keep us all listening, learning, speaking and working for change, for justice.
Finally, though donations are not the only way to make a difference, donating is important, especially right now. I know many in my networks are doing this already (some ideas here). Today, on what would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday, I have donated to the Justice for Breonna Taylor fund.
Black Lives Matter.
Acknowledging, with thanks, all those working for justice, in Ireland and beyond. Just a few listed here:
- @edifiedlistener – Sheri Spelic
- @ruha9 – Ruha Benjamin
- @clintsmithIII – Clint Smith III
- @MsPackyetti – Brittany Packnett Cunningham
- @renireni – Reni Eddo-Lodge
- @DrIbram – Ibram X. Kendi
- @sandylocks – Kimberlé Crenshaw
- @Blklivesmatter – Black Lives Matter
- @BlackLivesUK – Black Lives Matter UK
- @masi_asylum – Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland
- @galwayantiRN – Galway Anti Racism Network
I also recommend subscribing to Bending the Arc: a social justice newsletter for educators, written with power, grace and wisdom by Sherri Spelic. Thank you, Sherri.
let go of curriculum that favors whiteness
let go of our ignorance
let go of our fears of getting it wrong
let go of having to be perfect
so many things we have to let go of. That's hard.
We hold ourselves back.
— Sherri Spelic (@edifiedlistener) June 3, 2020