Be the change, being me

Who I’ve Learned From

For ten years this blog has been my own little corner of the world. A place where I have gone to reflect out loud in order to move forward in my own journey. A place where I have shared a few good ideas but also a lot of failures. A lot of missteps, a lot of hurt, regret, shame and it has been the way I have processed the world I live in. I have invited others along on my journey, at times physicially handing them the space, more often than not linking resources, sharing voices when I can.

For a while now, I have not known what the role of this blog should be. It mirrors the internal conversation I have had for the past two years about whether my voice should take up any space in education when there are so many others whose voices, particularly those of anti-racist and anti-bias experts, should be heard above mine. While I have not come to any final conclusion about this space, I have slowed down, I have focused more on my immediate sphere of work and life than on here. I have allowed myself to do the work and not share rather than share at all times.

Right now, again, I want to recognize the space I have been offered, the rooms I have been invited to, the events I get to be a part of and use it as a way to direct you to other resources that support the anti-racist work that us, White educators, need to further immerse ourselves in and carry with us into the classroom. To perhaps help you discover the work of others who have shaped small or large parts of my journey. To invite you into the work of others who may change you like it has changed me. I hope my resources below are old news to you, that you have followed these people, read these books, or taken the steps already. I hope this post is redundant, but in case it is not, here you go.

I will never be able to give every single person credit whose words have shaped me so please see the links here as a small sample. One of the biggest benefits of being connected to other people through social media is that I can use the work shared to guide me to others whose work then leads me to even more resources.

Read all the posts from #31DaysIBPOC founded by Dr. Kim Parker and Tricia Ebarvia from the past two years and then follow all of the people who wrote them, support their work by paying for their work, buying their books, and signal-boosting their work.

Interrogate and audit the media you immerse students in. Be inspired and enlighted by the work of the women behind #DisruptTexts – educators Tricia Ebarvia, Lorena Germán, Dr. Kim Parker, and Julia Torres – who so generously share tools to “to challenge the traditional canon in order to create a more inclusive, representative, and equitable language arts curriculum that our students deserve.” 

As Julie Jee asked on Twitter, how many book clubs do we need to be a part of before we move into action? Join a community like #CleartheAir founded by Val Brown to read but then push yourself to actions beyond the learning. As Christie Nold reminded me this week, it is easy to get stuck in the learning part of disrupting your own thinking, but our students don’t need us to just learn, they need us to change. Create book clubs in your own community but then create action steps beyond that, not just lofty goals.

Plan for change now and in the fall. There are so many learning opportunities being offered through books, PD, or even future small in-person events. Look at this list offered by The Brown Bookshelf of resources as a start or watch the incredible Kidlit Community Rally for Black Lives. Join the Author’s Village In Conversation series. On Twitter and Instagram, every single day, there are resources shared and events publicized, it is incredible to see. Ask your administration who they are partnering with for PD. Who are they asking you to learn from and demand inclusive representation. Partner locally with community resources, I love that my district has partnered with Nehemiah to continue our antiracist work past platitudes and promises. Use the free resources offered by incredible sites like Teaching Tolerance or Equal Justice Initiative. See who else they link to and do your own learning. Create your own accountability group, even if it is just one other person to go on the journey with you. Invite your students into the work with you by using a resource such as This Book is Anti-racist by Tiffany M. Jewell and illustrated by Aurelia Durand, I am using this book with my own young children as well over the summer. Buy more children’s anti-racist books sure, read them as well and book talk them throughout the year, there are many lists floating around, but as The Conscious Kid and Edith Campbell reminds us, do not just show one aspect of the Black experience, show the full lives, show the joy as well.

Do more than just be angry. As Layla F. Saad, Jes Lifshitz and many others reminds us turn that anger into action now and come fall. Don’t sit in silence, instead take actions. Sure, you may absolutely screw up but then learn from it. Don’t let your fear of doing it wrong stop you from taking action, I know I feel such shame at times but the shame passes and my own feelings are simply not as important as the lives of others. I have to be the growth for myself, I have to model it for my own kids and bring them on the journey. Am I bound to screw up, absolutely, but I still need to do the work.

Support Black owned bookstores, one of my goals this year is to stop using Amazon and shop locally. If you are in a space to read and have the financial opportunity to do so make it your mission to shop local for book additions. But then also make it your mission to read the books so that you can share the boks with others. If you cannot purchase the books, ask your public library to get them if it is open or offering curbside service, once you read the books, review them, especially on the “big sites.” Every review is free for us but can make money for the creators.

And finally, if you are reading this post and like me, you are a White educator who is asked to be a part of a lot of different spaces, I urge you to look around and take notice in whose voices are missing and how that is impacting the conversation. But don’t just notice, take action. If you say yes to be on a team, who else is on it? If you are part of a hiring committee, who is being interviewed and offered jobs? If you are planning community events, who is part of the planning? If you are creating curriculum, whose voices are centered? If you are an invited speaker, who else has been invited? If you are offered another opportunity to share your voice, ask whose voices are also shared and if the answer is more of the same people that look like you then push back. Have a list of names to offer up instead of you. Rescind your name if you can, make space, demand space, do better, give up your space.

I am so grateful to so many who have allowed me to learn from them and alongside them. Who inspires you? Who pushes you? Who holds you accountable? Sending love into the world to those who need it. I wrote more about who I have learned from here but this learning doesn’t end now with my anger. It doesn’t ever end. It continues and I know I still have so much more to learn, don’t we all?

2 thoughts on “Who I’ve Learned From”

  1. Pernille, Just want you to know that I make space for you – I enjoy reading your blogs and encourage you to not leave too much space (don’t step too far back!) – your thoughts and your willingness to be vulnerable inspires and encourages me in many ways. Thank you!

  2. Pernille, your blog posts have always offered food for thought, personal vulnerability, and immeasurable resources. I have shared them widely with colleagues. Thank you for this reflection and for the passing along of yet more resources, both familiar and new. I look forward to shifting my book purchases away from Amazon as well by supporting Black-owned independent book sellers. Thank you for stepping up by raising your voice, taking action, and also knowing when to step back to give space.

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