I had to have conversations with 3 different POC students about self-advocacy today. All 3 of them were in situations where, for example, they didn’t get a copy of the homework the day before, and then used that as an excuse for not doing it and handing it in. Things like that. Where they had been taught so few times to speak up for themselves in school that it didn’t even occur to them that it was a possible solution. So we had to talk about what self-advocacy means, that it’s their education and no one’s going to chase after them to get their stuff done, and they need to figure out how to handle their situations or who to ask for help in handling them. But sitting around hiding silently doesn’t get you anywhere, but lets kids of color slip under the radar and just get passed up.
And meanwhile when things like that happen, kids not speaking up, I hear teachers ranting about how they’re lazy and about “learned helplessness,” which I don’t even yet bother pointing out they only label that way with youth of color. And wonder if they’ve ever thought really hard about where that comes from. Like when school has always been disempowering and a place that fucks you up and calls you a failure, there isn’t much point in speaking up.
I just got permission to start a mostly-POC girl gang in math class specifically to have a space for my girls to feel confident and start to speak up.