Today, I held individual conferences with students. I suggested these conferences, instead of our regularly scheduled class, a little while ago. I tweaked the schedule because it’s usually a good idea to check in, one-on-one, around this time in the semester. But I also did it as a precaution. Maybe it is my Southern roots. Maybe I subconsciously knew how white folk could be : the sexism, the racism – whatever it takes to maintain white male supremacy. 1 But I knew that – if what happened were to happen – I wouldn’t be able to function in front of a whole class today.
And so I talked with my first-semester composition students, individually. And some didn’t speak about the news. Some didn’t ask how I was in return to my query, and so I didn’t pursue it. And some said they were scared or worried. And some of us…well, there were tears.
At LaGuardia, over 60% of our students are not born in the US. Over 80% of the students are people of color/minorities: 43% are Latinx. My students are wildly, wonderfully, diverse.
And I don’t know how to apologize. Not in a way that matters.
I don’t know how to say: I am sorry, my people did this.
I don’t know how I can help now – right now. I bumped into other current and former students today, beyond those that were meeting with me. Some just expressed wonder and shock. One former student asked, “Oh, are you teaching post-apocalyptic stuff again this term? That would be very appropriate.”
I feel so helpless, but realize that this helplessness is nothing, next to the years – decades, longer – of POC, of LGBTQ people, of others who have been routinely oppressed and denigrated by this country, and who have been attacked by people who share my skin tone, and/or my cisgender, heterosexual identity.
My grief is nothing, next to the unrelenting, day-to-day micro-aggressions that so many deal with, and the very real peril they sense right now.
I do not stand in front of a class until Monday. Many on social media have already shared questions and stories about how to discuss the election. If there is something that got the conversation started, or that opened up dialogue, send suggestions my way. Please know that if you respond and comment/share ideas on social media, I will probably reach out to you and ask if I can share it here, too.
- Kalle Westerling crowdsourced things on Facebook, and shared ideas about creating space for talking, for beginning to write or create and respond to the election. Read the post over at the HASTAC blog. Kalle also shared the FB thread, where people are still weighing in.
- Kalle also posted that the Future Initiatives is holding a Teach In / Learn In on Tuesday, November 15th, at CUNY Graduate Center. Folks are already adding resources to the Election Clapback Syllabus.
- Anne Donlon also shared prompts for a written reflection, asking students to sort through their emotions.
- An artist on Tumblr, Maeril, made a guide to remind us how we can help people who are harassed or attacked, by engaging with the target and ignoring the attacker. I plan on sharing this with my students as well. *Later addition: as a student pointed out to me today, with my position/privilege as a white woman, it would almost always be easier for me to intervene in this kind of situation, versus a POC or minority who felt they would also be put in danger. This is, of course, a very real concern – and this is something I will also discuss with my students.
- Amy Hughes generously shared the activity she used with her students on FB, and allowed me to do a screengrab.
- A lawyer in Boston, Kara Hurvitz, began a list of legal considerations (immigration, LGBTQ rights, birth control, etc.) and advice to get ready for January.
- In a similar vein, an “Oh shit! What Should I Do Before January?” guide is making the rounds, with issues similar to the document Hurvitz is curating.
- Note: Both of these GoogleDocs are currently getting so much traffic that they are not always available immediately. Hurvitz has made the legal list view-only.
Updated: The original GoogleDoc guide mentioned above has now become a site, still undergoing additions and revisions via crowd-sourcing. Visit the “Oh Crap! What Now? Survival Guide.”
- Stephanie Hedge also has some suggestions for how you can make space for students, listen to them, and encourage ongoing activism.
- We’re currently organizing an Election Teach-In at LaGuardia. More news/updates to follow on my blog (and elsewhere) in the near future. For now, here’s the FB event page.
- Zoë Wool at Savage Minds put together a great resource list for #teachingthedisaster.
- And then – of course – there’s the Trump 2.0 Syllabus. The African American Intellectual History Society has also collected assignments to accompany the Trump 2.0 syllabus.
Even if some of these were geared towards the “morning after,” many of them – particularly in the suggestions gathered by Kalle – can be used throughout the rest of the semester and beyond, as we cope and try to move forward. I’ll continue adding to this as I see or get sent more resources.
Header image: “descent,” Thomas Leth-Olsen Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0.
- This should not have been news to me. Hell, the first thing of mine that I ever saw in print was in high school, and was an editorial against the Confederate flag, written in response to some good ol’ boy in the Lynchburg News & Advance. And I look at racist AF Civil War memories. I should have known better, but was in denial, like so many others. ↩