Saturday, October 8, 2016

Why Saying Black Lives Matter matters - Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

Why Saying Black Lives Matter matters


By Becca Ritchie, Member of the BAT Leadership Team and Washington State BATs  

I woke today thinking about the question one of my friends asked me. She said “I don’t get it, don’t all lives matter?” As I have moved through this thing called life, my journey has taught me many things. I am proud to say, “Black Lives Matter.” Here is what impacted my thinking and the actions in which I will be participating:

I grew up in suburban Tacoma. I remember attending a mostly Caucasian school for grades K-2. I recall lessons about Abraham Lincoln and how he “freed the slaves”. 1973 had lots of upheavals around race and as a five year old, I remember talking to the librarian while checking out a book and being very frustrated that black people didn’t like me simply because I was white. I echoed the sentiment that many others shared saying, “I never owned slaves. I don’t understand.” Oh, the naivety of a 5-year-old. During that same time, the red lining of the area I lived was evident, when looking back at historical archives. Two Jr. High Schools in my district were filled with mostly Caucasian students. One was “mixed” and then, there was Woodbrook. I remember even in Jr. High “knowing” the “good” schools and “bad” schools. It is curious that many years in the future, my first job was at Woodbrook, and I learned as much from the students as they did from me! But I digress…

When I was in 2nd grade, I had the BEST teacher. She danced with us at lunch time (I am showing my age because this was prior to a 30 minute duty free lunch), we baked on Fridays, and we learned so much about being caring human beings. I learned later in my life that my parents had to agree to have me in that class. They did the same for my brother, who had been in her class three years earlier. She was the only teacher of African descent in the building. I loved her and she taught us all how to be patient, to have fun and how to love learning. And more so, she taught me to accept people. This lesson was taught as I was the kid in class that teachers love! I always got to sit by “that kid” in my classes. You know the one that is constantly misbehaving. Two years of sitting by David in both 1st and 2nd grade helped 
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