I Should Have Said Something Sooner

Antiracist ELA Educator

I should have said something a long time ago.

I didn’t because I felt powerless, like other people had more right to say something or had better ways to say something than I did.

But then George Floyd was murdered. Amy Cooper threatened a Black man. And as those stories and more cycled through all of my social media and news feeds, I realized that if it hadn’t been for my Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students who patiently made my classroom a better place, even though they had no power or reason to, I would be just another Amy Cooper or a random “Karen.”

If it hadn’t been for a number of BIPOC leaders who have poured their wisdom and stories onto Twitter, who have written books and articles and websites, I would still be walking around with my eyes closed.

Thanks to them, I am on a journey to becoming antiracist.

I imagine it will take the rest of my life for me to unleard the racism and implicit bias I have been taught in our society.

But I want to do better.

A friend and fellow student from the University of Oklahoma sent me an Instagram message earlier today that put my thoughts into words better than I could. So, with her permission, I’m sharing with you:

Antiracist ELA Teacher

That’s the thing about antiracism. We have to admit first that we are complicit, that we have had a role in upholding the current power structure in our country. Even if we didn’t know. Even if we think we’re nice people.

We also have to acknowledge that our students deserve to have teachers who are aware of and understand our country’s painful history so they can work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

In my classroom, I’ve had students read “The Hate U Give” and tell me they had no idea that racism was still happening. I’ve had mixed race kids tell me that the White people in their own families don’t believe them when they tell about the racism they’ve experienced.

But we’re seeing it on full display in the news now.

And as my friend pointed out, education is the key to understanding, to figuring out how we can make a difference.

We can all benefit from sharing resources and listening to people who have devoted their time and their lives to helping us learn how to be antiracist. Our kids deserve this from us.

So I have written a report that includes lists of all the nonfiction and fiction books, articles, websites, and BIPOC leaders that I have read, follow, or have heard about from the aforementioned leaders and other people who I know are on the same journey.

If you’d like to download this free report so to help you advance in your journey to antiracism, just click here. You’ll be asked to enter your first name and email address. I’ll send you an email so that you can confirm you really want the report, and once you click the button inside the email, I’ll send you the report immediately.

I’ll also send you updates to the report since I’m always finding new resources. If you have any questions, or want to suggest additional resources, you’re welcome to reply to any of my emails.

Let’s be better!

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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