Midday with Matt – Racism in America

Here’s more of my conversation with Chanel, Anir, and Kenny about being black in the United States.

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Today is Juneteenth. In honor of the day, here’s one of my favorite poems, written by Langston Hughes.

Theme for English B
The instructor said, Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you— Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

Some Thoughts on Anti-Racism

Today, we used our lunch break to attend a protest in Lebanon relating to the systemic racism in America, most recently evidenced by the murder of George Floyd. It was a peaceful event, we were able to practice social distancing, and most importantly it provided the opportunity for likeminded people to come together and affirm that black lives matter.

Nora Shelly, a reporter for the Lebanon Daily News, was among many news outlets covering the event. She has some coverage on Twitter, including the thread embedded below.

Nora Shelly reports on the protest

We took our children with us, because as parents we’ve come to realize that it’s not enough to not be racist. We need to be anti-racist. With that in mind, here are a couple of resources for White parents: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/03/869071246/how-white-parents-can-talk-to-their-kids-about-race and https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/parenting/kids-books-racism-protest.html.

Stay well, be safe, and let’s work together to fix systemic racism in our country.

Protest at the courthouse in Lebanon, Pennsylvania