Reflections on Race

July 6, 2020

I will strive to fighting against submission
my own admission
is that I have been committing
hate crimes…..
many times, I have chosen invisibility……
cloaked in apathy….
because there is never a truly, smiling
version of me. . . . .
Oh yes. . .
I can flash a grin with the best …..
nod head and jest
but just make sure not to shake my hand
do not touch me
because their touch is eroding me
from the inside out
and if ever someone peeled back the layers. . .
the self-hatred
would fill a room much more than the
respected, ivy-league degree carrying
but are you really black?
educated teacher ever did.

Oris Bryant is an educator at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts.

After is a Powerful Word

Mary Dibinga, July 9, 2020

After is a powerful word. After is an unimaginable word. How do we get to after? And even beyond the logistics of it and the fears of what has to come before there can be an after is the fact that it is hard to really emerge, ever, from our traumas.
First there is no clear line, not the way I want there to be. No D-Day that says the treaty was signed and the world is now at peace. Of course, most of that is just a story, too. Soldiers continue to die after treaties–it takes a while for a way to truly end, and then you hear the stories echoes in newer stories of the old folks who are still stuck back there in those times–squirreling away rations because they think they may need them again, telling and retelling and retelling the stories of the hardships of their youth and the wisdom that is foolishness in a new world no longer needing it.
How do we fit ourselves for a new world when we are so wounded and so stuck by the problems of this one? What washes us? What wipes away the fear and doubt and pain of a present to let us molt into a slick, clean new version of ourselves?
But then, maybe that is not what we do. Maybe we need a new world forged in pain of the past, forged in an understanding of the specialness of what could be based on the flaws of what was.
It’s just that, it’s just, that I’m weary. That I think we’re weary/ How do we dream when we’re weary?
But then I am writing, and that in itself is a sort of miracle, an impossibility. There are words, not all of them awkward and ugly falling and falling from my fingertips, inexhaustible despite my exhaustion, and there is this space that we made for others and the energy they brought here, and I am fed by this, and turning downright Pollyanna-esque in this writing now. I didn’t know I had it in me, and I wish it was a little more grounded, a little more of the realist writing of what can be fought for, what can be.
I think I have to look at transformations on the individual level. I am tired of trying to change institutions tired of the damage that comes from those efforts. I can’t remake the world, but I can imagine people deciding, me deciding that there are things I’m not keeping anymore—because I am tired—because while we lose so much right now, there is some gain.
There is some space to insist on how we want our lives to be. There are new things to fight to keep that we found her among the debris of our lives. Things we didn’t know we’d lost. I would not have been here today like this. I’m sure my calendar holds some shadow of what Thursday would have been, of how so many physical places and things that I used to go to and to hold and to create and to document and to get and to bring and to arrive at would have taken all this time and filled it in for me.

Mary Dibinga is an educator at Boston Latin Academy.

Reimagining the World After

Yana Minchenko, July 9, 2020

Each breath stretches as far the next door neighbor
The door is slightly ajar,
It is quiet
Not the quietness that disturbs but rather the one that
Says, “Finally each of your tasks have a sense of being”
Each movement is intentional
Because it is measured no in quantity but in quality
Because the movement is possible
And the lungs are not in fear of collapsing
And the tongue is not afraid of loose words
If a slip of a tongue cuts the soil –
Its seed plants a black currant bush that takes over the neighbor’s yard.
Little Hands cultivate the soil together with the wrinkled ones,
Smooth hands are not afraid to dig in either
Feels hope digging in
Feels more space digging in
Feels more hands can do the digging
with each breath that stretches as far the next door neighbor

Yana Minchenko is an educator at Charlestown High School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Noun Heavy

Barbara Ghartey July 9, 2020

Black, White, boxed-in
Stuck in a dream again it seems
Those marching are not walking dead
“Not dead yet!” scream the police
“Not dead yet!” screamed the doctors, teachers, and lawyers
You’re not dead yet!
I know you hear me, be wary, it’s coming
June’s been trifling
police been rifling our backs, doctors leave us dying of heart attacks
Knees are pressed heavy and slow on our necks
“I can’t believe it!” they say
They’ve always said I’m sorry
But the mothers and fathers and sons and daughters said
Those marching are not walking dead
They’re paving roads ahead to get out of the illusion the other created to keep up captive
Scared of the reciprocal from brown individuals
They call us combative and attack us.
Crispus Attucks
Call us addicts
Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids.
Now look what you went and did
Woke up the world

Barbara Ghartey is an educator at Boston Arts Academy.

Racism Repeats Itself

Ling-Se Chesnakes, July 9, 2020

An angry white mob
A black boy on the run
We’ve seen this way before
Trayvon was killed by a gun

A white woman threatens to call the police
On a black man walking alone
We’ve see this way before
Breonna was killed in her home

Two white men murder
A black man jogging through his neighborhood
We’ve this way before
Ahmaud was killed in cold blood

A white policeman arrests
A black woman for a yell
We’ve seen this way before
Sandra was found dead in her cell

A white policeman chokes
A black with his knee
We’ve seen this way before
George couldn’t breathe

These deaths were no accident
Their crime is simply living
Black in America
These crimes not worth forgiving

There is a saying that goes
“forgive and forget”
But staying silent
Is the only thing I will regret

We take to the streets shouting
“No justice, no peace” indignantly
We’ve been here before
So how will this end differently?

Some say change is slow
Movements and people must gather
We’ve been waiting since 1619
For Black Live to Matter.

Ling-Se Chesnakas is an educator at Boston Arts Academy.

Life is Short

Deirdre McCarthy July 9, 2020

“Life is short, though I keep this from my children/”

Please don’t.
Share that this life is precious and fleeting.
Enjoy each moment.
Worry less.
Risk more.

“Life is short, though I keep this from my children.”

Please don’t.
Share with me that tomorrow is unknown.
Today, right now, is all that you and I have.

“Life is short, though I keep this from my children.”

Please do.
I want to feel and think this will last forever.
Or at least a very, very long time.
Ice cream, hugs, riding my bike
for infinite days

“Life is short, though I keep this from my children.”

Please do.
I wish to play forever
Maybe you will join?

“Life is short, though I keep this from my children.”

Deirdre McCarthy is a third grade teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Summer 2020

Amy Gonzalez, July 9, 2020

When chaos creeps in
I like to think it was

The numbers how
On mental health
The economy
The deaths.

Numbers though only tell one story.
Our personal lives
blend together
Like a hazy, humid summer day.
Sometimes, it’s hard to see where we are all going.

I have hope in our resistance.
In our resistance to care for one another
To cut through the smog
Of capitalism and racism.

Our resistance is a story of humanity
With no end

Amy Gonzalez is an educator in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Praise Song

by Gia Batty July 9, 2020

I want to praise the things that won’t last
My son’s long hair,
curling in unrecognizable ways,
moving as if by its own will
Dinners together and at a decent time-
not rushed burrito barreling toward a field on 128
Walking the dog with someone from my family at 2:00
on a breezy summer afternoon
The tiny red flowers on the cactus my husband rescued from St. John Street
Waking up late
Staying up late
Teaching one son how to make
the chocolate cake he likes
and the other how to clean a toilet
How could I have not known
that my older son always take the Kamchatka Peninsula in Risk
and Tennessee Avenue in Monopoly
and will always win?
The lines the mower leaves on the grass
The chalked messages of hope on the sidewalk
and on the path into the park
Reading a novel in one sitting
Not knowing what day it is
The time to make this poem

Gia Batty is an educator at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts.