It's been two months since I've last posted! I've been doing and thinking a lot in these last two months. At first I was very engrossed in the 100 Day Project with all of my floral art (and of course my day job of teaching elementary art, but you'll read more on that a little further down). I was searching out a lot of local Chicago floral shops for inspiration and was pleased with how many wonderful images I found. I did branch out and do a few from personal accounts and other cities/countries. I was really hitting my stride and decided to go BIG for days 50-60, but the world went bigger.
I initially started the the floral theme because I missed the annual tradition of Chris (my partner) getting flowers and taking me out to dinner for my birthday (Chicago shut down on my birthday). It was nice to be able to give myself flowers each day after that. It was a bright spot in the midst of a global crisis, being stuck in a small apartment all day, and navigating e-learning with 3rd-5th graders (on top of worrying about them and how they were doing - especially those who don't sign into class).
Then, George Floyd was murdered. It was heart wrenching. It's always heart wrenching. And it happens so much more than is documented/recorded. I didn't initially discuss the event with my students and I'm not sure how many teachers at my school did the week that it happened. On May 30th, Chicago held a large protest seeking justice, seeking peace, seeking an end to police brutality against BIPOC, especially Black humans. As many of you know, individuals began rioting and looting. It happened all over the city. Our principal held an e-meeting with us first thing Monday morning to discuss the events, share her stance, and show her support for all of our Black coworkers and students. She told us not to worry about our lesson plans as they were planned and encouraged us to be there to listen to and hear our students. At 8:30am I signed into the music teachers class (she taught right before me) to see some of our students before they signed into my class. It was heartbreaking listening to her sadness. It was heartbreaking listening to our students try to comfort her. It was heartbreaking listening to her try to comfort our students. She was the first teacher to see any of our students since the rioting and looting. Students were sharing their experiences with everything that had happened in the chat box and vocally. She had such a huge task put on her shoulders and honestly I'm proud of the way she handled it and thankful that I had an opportunity to log in. All of the students who logged into her class logged into mine plus some (we had some late risers during e-learning). I started by saying that I love each and every single one of them. I told them I missed them, which I'd said almost everyday of e-learning, but man did I miss them so much more that day. I told them that I will never understand what it feels like to go through a lot of what they go through because of the color of my skin. But I made it clear that I am in their corner. I will stand with them. I will fight for them. The following two weeks we worked on artists as activists projects and listened to some uplifting music while we worked. It's not how I planned on the school year ending, but I am so proud of my art activists and can't wait to get some murals going at school when we return!
I've signed so many petitions, sent so many emails, and sent donations. I'm using the resources I have to stand up to these injustices and will continue to do so. I have planned out that each month going forward, in addition to my Special Olympics donation, that I will be donating to local organizations that support BIPOC and I'll share those on here as I go. So far I have donated to Chicago Community Bond Fund, Black Lives Matter Chicago, and Urban Grill (who fed THOUSANDS of children when CPS shut down food service pickup after the looting/riots). I have much more that I can do and I will continue putting in the work. Please know that I am a safe space for anyone who wants to talk about issues related to injustices.
Here are some of my recommendations (especially for yt folx) for books/shows that I have read/watched so far:
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Wild Beauty: New and Selected Poems of Ntozake Shange
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut written by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
The Undefeated written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Just Mercy - free to watch
Selma - pretty sure I watched this on HBO
13th - Netflix
Seven Seconds - Netflix
When They See Us - Netflix
Oprah Winfrey When They See Us Now - Netflix
Teach Us All - Netflix
Dear White People - Netflix
Your Attention Please - Hulu
#blackAF - Hulu
If Beale Street Could Talk - Hulu
LA92 - Hulu
The Hate You Give - Hulu
Blackkklansman - Also on HBO I believe
This list is by no means the extent of what you should be reading/watching, but it's a good place to start. And, I watched a lot of those shows/movies before May/June 2020 which is why that list is a little longer. I plan on watching more. I plan on reading more. I have ordered several more books through bookshop.org supporting Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery, Chicago's only Black woman owned bookstore and gallery.
These just arrived today:
Teaching For Black Lives by Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian, and Wayne Au
The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys by Eddie Moore
We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina L. Love
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell
So, as you can see, the floral works of art seemed so trivial after all that has happened in the last month. I even felt wrong posting the three days of large oil pastel works that I did on Instagram and I'm glad that I stopped to help lift up the voices of others. I have been silent with my art for the time being, but know that I am working on things, like opening up for commissions - stay tuned for more information on that next week. I am also working to better myself, especially as a White teacher to Black and Brown students.