Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Don't Look Down

Recently in the news was George Zimmerman, the man who shot a teenager named Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager in a White neighborhood armed only with a hoodie and some skittles.  Zimmerman was on "neighborhood watch" and as such, carried a pistol.  Even in crazy parts of Oklahoma people don't just pack around pistols to walk around a neighborhood and make sure that nobody is up to mischief.  No, here in Oklahoma we build parks in the suburban neighborhoods to ensure that any registered sex offenders will be forced to move.  But Trayvon wasn't doing anything wrong.  He was just a kid.

Yes, I hear you, naysayers.  We don't know what actually happened.  But we do know some of what happened.  Full grown White guy.  Pistol. Unarmed teenager, meaning CHILD.  Death.  Oh, and he wasn't charged and may not be charged because of Florida's Stand Your Ground law. Which is bullshit. I also understand that perhaps Trayvon didn't have the best track record at school.  Alright, I'll give you that.  But you know what? Today one of my kids was busted with hundreds of grams of pot and arrested on intent to distribute.  And he's still a kid with innocence in his eyes and the mind of a 15 year old kid.  Today he is a kid I'd like to smack upside the head, but still, he is a child (and innocent until proven guilty).  And since Zimmerman may not face a trial or be arrested, I'm going to try him in the court of my opinion. I find him guilty of being the biggest racist jerkface in Florida.   Don't play like this isn't about race, because it surely is.

What is disgusting is the way the story was immediately spun to make Trayvon Martin look like a bad kid, showing photos of someone else flipping off the camera with his face superimposed next to the big face of Zimmerman, who looks the epitome of responsible citizen.  When did we let our media get so far out of hand?  Why are responsible journalists not standing up to this sort of sensationalism? It seems that our sheepish republic more often than not blindly follows the mainstream media.  And are we going into another McCarthy era?

If so, I am totally fucked. Maybe we should avoid mainstream media outlets and read aljazeera English or the Daily Mail.  Or just lesser-known outlets like this one.

Speaking of court and my sometimes questionable judment, I've been called to jury duty. I have never had to do it before, but I am a registered voter and it is my duty to serve as a voice of reason if that's what is called for.  I'm pretty sure that by posting this blog post, I can get out of any trial that involves racism or police officers or fear of persecution.  That should cover it. If I were somehow kicked off of the jury, I could then go back to my school and finish testing like I'm a good teacher.  But even if that doesn't happen, my kids will still do well on their CRT's.

The tests have everyone on edge.  I've got my first hour class for the entire morning and have provided a rich learning environment filled with Apples to Apples, chess, checkers, art projects, books, puzzles, games and sudoku. That helps immensely. However, the rest of my student's day is disrupted.  Their schedules are not familiar and they do not want to buckle down and do the activities I have set out for them. I dislike being extra firm.  I found myself raising my voice to one of the construction workers who was smoking on school grounds.  It was embarrassing for him, I'm sure, but also embarrassing for me as my students saw and heard me ball him out.  I almost felt sorry later.  Almost. 

On top of that, the administrators have decided that I only get one break a day- last period.  So I work all day and have one plan. Other teachers do not have a planning period at all.  Only it's not working out like that. I'm having one plan every other day as I am covering for others.  They do not know where to send the extra students displaced by testing.  During one class I taught this afternoon, a knock came at the door and 6 students stood there, saying that the principal instructed their class to come to me.  They must be mistaken, but as it turns out, he had.  I eventually got it straightened out but had to go find the principal myself as he claimed to be too busy to deal with me.  He and all of the administrators were eating lunch and he got beligerent with me.  Yes, in front of others.  I try to not take that stuff personal- he does it to everyone.  But I did walk out in the middle of his tirade. I'm sure that made him happy.

In the midst of all this, I need to find serenity.  Peace. Beauty. 

I've been planting.  I have a little container garden on my front porch this year.  It's cute and mostly edible and attractive and relaxing to putz around in.  The weather is wonderful for dog walking and so Big and Tobey and I take a stroll almost every night.  That's such a stress-relieving activity as Big is so well-trained and used to this behavior that he sticks by me and we just enjoy each other's company. Tobey is still figuring it out and has finally stopped running away when I let him off leash.  He's starting to come reliably when I call him.  His actual owner can get him to do anything, but he's sort of listening to me now too.  And I'm learning him too.  He's a good dog.  And the wedding plans are coming along.  Invitations are almost ready and Grey and I are not too involved.  Cathy and Charlotte are pretty well managing everything. That part alone makes it fun. I got to job about a mile and a half yesterday too, before I couldn't breathe and had to finish the last half mile with a walk.  It's a start.  Not like the marathon shape I used to be in, but hopefully it will improve.  Last weekend we went to a health fair and climbed a rock wall.  We both made it to the top and rapelled down. Now that was cool. I'm a not-really-into-leaving-the-ground kinda woman.  But it was on my terms so I think it was ok.  I just didn't look down.

Maybe sometimes you need to not look down.  Maybe sometimes you just need to not freak yourself out. Don't shoot. Don't panic. Don't take Fox News seriously. Don't overthink the CRT.  One thing you should make sure of though: You should definitely not smoke at my school.

Looks like George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder.  And Trayvon's parents are calling for peaceful protests and belief in the justice system.  I hope they know how much of the country wishes they could hug them right now.

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