Eight years ago when Barack Obama became President, my classes were jubilant. It was pure joy to listen to my students, mostly Hispanics and African Americans, say that now they know they can do anything. That was a moment when I understood I had a job of meaning and worth. To be listener, as their faces and voices alighted with joy, was one happiness atop another.
Yesterday was a very different day. But, hey, this is New York City, and we expected--no hungered for--a different outcome--and felt a stark collective pain. I am veering from my decree to keep this blog a "safe zone" a non-election forum, I know. But I can't today, separate myself from the realities of the external world and their impact on my internal self and my teaching self.
Class began at 8:00, which means I left home at 7:00, filled with the night's revelations, not enough time to downward dog it away. We got right on task: research papers. I told my class, "please don't take it personally if I'm short with you. I'm very sad." They were sad, too. No one was short with anyone. My second class was not so mellow. "What do you want me to write?" a student asked, in response to a note that she needed to write a fuller introduction. She was exasperated; so was I. Another student told me "You're ruining my desire to write." We're not supposed to push grammar--It's hard to not take issue with confusing commas and periods. Maybe there's something deep there. Maybe I need to put a comma at the end of this election fiasco. A period is unthinkable.
It's hard to teach when feeling despair. It's hard to tell students opportunities they haven't yet dreamed, still await. It's hard to tell students, it will be ok, when I feel so un-ok inside. But I did my best. I did my job. I retreated from commas and periods.
I wonder what kind of teacher this new climate will make me. I feel a protest song coming on, something by Woody Guthrie, a name I haven't thought of in years. I saw Beautiful finally--Carole King's early life story. The soundtrack to my young life enthralled me, brought me joy and tears. I need to see it again, asap. Return to hope, to a cleaner time. I'm not ready to move on.