To All Who Teach, How Do We Educate in the Midst of So Much Hate? (POEM)

Aug 8, 2018
11:47 AM

Photo by Cbl62 (CC 3.0/GNU)

As students enter our school gates
During a time of blatant hate
In these united states
How will we educate?

Will we perpetuate divides
by continuing to institutionalize
disparities in educational opportunities
rooted in systemic policies
from academic profiling
to differential policing
and curriculum tracking

Will we emphasize reading, writing and arithmetic
Ignoring the environment and the campus climate
Overlooking societal realities
Forgetting about students and their families

Will we stay silent
Claiming neutrality, rationality and objectivity
Fueling complacency
Implicitly condoning a pattern of othering

Will we unpack lies
that stigmatize, criminalize and dehumanize
That materialize in the devastation of lives
Will we deconstruct prevailing ideologies
such as myths of meritocracy
ideas of biological and cultural deficiencies
Justifying centuries of hierarchies
That persist in massive inequalities

Will we foster rigorous reflection
Geared toward liberation
Rather than rabid competition
That assumes it’s all about the win
and material consumption

Will we encourage questioning
and deep listening, especially of the voices most often missing
Instilling a yearning for more learning
Instead of encouraging passive consuming
through memorizing and standardized testing/

Will we create a space of affirmation
Not ignorance or even tolerance
But one where multiple identities
such as race, class, gender, abilities and sexualities
are not erased
nor expected to assimilate

Will we think and act collectively
For the public good
and not simply individually
Realizing that we are stronger in unity

I ask this of us all
How will we rebuild this fall


Gilda L. Ochoa teaches Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies at Pomona College. Her latest book is Academic Profiling: Latinos, Asian Americans and the Achievement Gap.