All Aboard the Opt Out Bus - Day 4 Journal: "Let the Children See Us Trying" (Rev. Barber)
by Susan and Shawn DuFresne 7.16.16
originally published on the Facebook page All Aboard the Opt Out Bus: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1749499548626252&id=1614927555416786
Just prior to the time we needed to get packing for the #OptOutBus2016 Coast to Coast Free Books for Kids Tour, our nation was brought to its knees [again] by the back-to-back shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Then another tragedy in Dallas. The country's focus turned to racism once more for the time being.
I was torn. Do we go forward with the tour? I seriously considered painting the #OptOutBusand creating a #BlackLivesMatter Bus. As I was packing, I looked at all the messages on the bus - the most recent being written predominantly by black and brown students and parents at Garfield HS.
I paused to reflect on 12 year old Asean Johnson's speech at the Save Our Schools and#PeoplesMarch16 in DC...on Jesse Hagopian's speech there, Reverend Barber's speech, Jitu Brown's, Yohuru Williams', and Julian Vasquez-Helig's, to name a few.
Jesse said, ‘For black lives to matter, black #education has to matter.’https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/for-black-lives-to-matter…/
Reverend Barber said, "Let the children see us trying."
Like I've said before, we aren't expecting the #OptOutBus to suddenly end high stakes testing. But as you can see - #BlackLivesMatter and corporate education reform are connected deeply. There was no need to start over on the bus, we simply needed to add on.
As a result of Philando Castile's life mattering to so many children - to so many public school colleagues of his, to so many in his community - it felt important to visit St. Paul, MN. Today was the day.
I worried about stepping into a sacred circle, as an outsider to be honest. We weren't coming as white saviors, but to demonstrate our compassion through a small act of kindness. How do I navigate this attempt - to what I know is to make a small gesture - towards demonstrating that black lives do matter to some of us whites? We wanted to "let the children see us trying"...
A stop at Subway enroute to Philando's school brought us to Jen. Jen was very receptive to our thoughts of giving books to the children from this neighborhood. She knew someone closely connected to Philando and immediately made a phone call. She said we had 3 options: 1) Philando's family was having a picnic at the neighborhood park and we could give books to children there 2) We could go to his school where he worked and see if kids were at the playground, and 3) There was an ongoing protest at the Governor's mansion and maybe some kids would be there.
Jen wrote out directions, we thanked her, and headed to the park. Turning into a parking lot we saw a small family picnic in action. I tend to be shy and wanted to be respectful. I approached, but not too closely - and chose to speak to what appeared to be the parent of the group of kids. I smiled and asked if I could ask her a question. She smiled and approached. I Badass Teachers Association: