How Indigenous, Black and POC Educators Envision a Better School Experience

When organizing the series, Ebarvia and Parker asked contributors to pick a date and left the choice of what to write about open. During a month when the U.S. coronavirus death toll passed 100,000, with disproportionate impact on black and brown communities, and when the deaths and harassment of black men and women dominated non-COVID news, they said their project had to be able to hold both pain and joy. In a post addressed directly to black joy, second-grade teacher Aeriale N. Johnson pointed to how this duality has long been necessary for marginalized communities:

“That a people could rail against
the horrors of chattel slavery
for centuries,
spend every moment since emancipation
fighting for our humanity
and have you remain,
in our hearts
is nothing short of a miraculous
gift from the ancestors.”

And it’s the joy that motivates the cofounders of #31DaysIBPOC. Parker said what she loves most about the posts, along with the retweets and comments they generate, is the chance to celebrate IBPOC educators. “We’ve always known they’re excellent,” she said. “It’s nice that other people can know that, too.”

With that recognition, Parker and Ebarvia hope the series will challenge teachers to reflect and to adopt anti-racist and culturally responsive practices. They also hope education leaders will ask families what they need from education during the pandemic and how their assets can be leveraged to transform schools. “Especially at this time, I think that there is a need to recenter education on a ethos of community and collectivism and organizing around those principles that has not traditionally been the mode of operation of most American schools which function on individualism and competition,” said Ebarvia.

“You have to show people what it could look like to be different,” said Parker. “[#31DaysIBPOC] is what is created just by asking people. And so, more people can do this.”