That’s how I feel right now. After being gone on vacation for a few days and then going to the most intense conference of all time, it’s pretty hard to be back at a desk. I can’t sit still, I keep thinking about people I met last week, keep wondering what I was doing at my desk two weeks ago because none of my notes make any sense. At this point in the summer, there’s nothing to eat in the cafeteria, but I do appreciate that they had some fruit.
So, yes, the conference was awesome-amazing-dazzling-powerful-stunning. Or, SuperMegaAwesome as my friend Bea would put it. I knew it was a Diversity Conference and that it was good. That was all I knew. It was great to relieve that ache in my heart that is caused by not being in Boston (if you’ve ever lived there and don’t anymore, you know what I mean). It was wonderful to meet a bunch of new people and find out about their schools. We watched some really good films about students dealing with (or not dealing with) different cultural backgrounds and experiences. I get it now that we have to talk about these matters in our schools and get other white people (as that’s my personal vantage point) versed in the appropriate language to do this work. My mind is aflame with questions I have for my school’s diversity groups and practices. I’m not leading my search to answer these questions with skepticism; I simply aim to know what we have in place that’s good and what areas there might be for improvement. I’m very interested in this type of work now, but I am not sure where to start – this will also be a focus of my search.
One thing we did on the conference was a walking tour of Boston African=American National Historic Sites, which anyone can do as it’s provided by The National Park Service. The tour begins across the street from the Massachusetts State House with a close look at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, which depicts the 54th regiment of Massachusetts, the first regiment of all-black men who fought in the Civil War, leaving Boston with their young commander, Robert Shaw. This story is readily available to you in the movie Glory, starring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, and more. I hadn’t seen this movie. I had heard about it and had meant to watch it, but with all life has to offer, I hadn’t understood the importance of this story until seeing this memorial. Fortunately, yesterday afternoon, while in a state of nostalgia for the conference, I looked at the on-demand movies available to watch on our cable, and there it was: Glory. 1989. Sweet! So I watched it and boohooed. I didn’t fastforward through war scenes like I usually do. I didn’t look away when Denzel W’s character was whipped for leaving camp – when he was only trying to find some decent shoes to wear, not desert his men. I don’t think I was ready for this film before last week as I am now. I don’t mean that I had inferior teachers or didn’t care about history; I just didn’t really get just HOW big this time in history was. I am deeply grateful to have had that tour around Beacon Hill and having folks tie the events of that time with issues that are present today.
Thanks to this conference, I view the struggle – yes, it’s still a struggle – people of color face in our nation through a different lens. I think I’ll spend more time writing about it after today, but for now, I am still decompressing all the new info and new vocabulary in my head as well as organizing how I want to run my search that I mentioned above.