Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Slice of Life: Conversations about important issues

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

Last night, I had a twenty minute car ride with my nephew, Jack, who is an attentive, bright 13 year-old.

"So Mel," he said. "What do you think about this whole NFL thing? Have you been paying attention to it? Do you know what's going on?"

We talked for a while about how he views the actions of some of his favorite football players. He had strong opinions that Colin Kaepernick shouldn't lose his job because he exercised his right to free speech. I pointed out that maybe he didn't lose his job, and I decided to play the devil's advocate a little bit (although I probably feel even more strongly about it than Jack), questioning Jack about where we should draw the lines on how people use their power, fame, or privilege.

Earlier in the day, I had tweeted about my concern that we were now paying more attention to the issues around free speech than the ones around racism and police brutality--which were the issues that started this whole conversation. I asked Jack what he thought about this--whether he thought we were creating different conversations in order to avoid possibly more difficult conversations around how people of color are treated differently.

Without missing a beat, Jack pulled up a screenshot of a letter Michael Bennett wrote following an incident he had with the Las Vegas police department.
We ended up in a lengthy conversation about the racism that exists in our country and how hard it is to talk about it.

I shared with him how I am evaluating and trying to be more aware of my own racial biases that showed up when I took the on-line Project Implicit tests. (If you haven't tried these, I recommend taking the time to see how you do!) Maybe what worries me most is that we do have racism in our country, even within groups of people who we wouldn't expect it from. Maybe it's so hard for us to talk about it, to really look at it and dig in to inherent and unwanted biases that it's more comfortable to talk about the First Amendment and what it means to show respect for our country. Personally, I'd like to hit pause on the conversations about who took a knee, what other teams did, and whether our president has the right to tell their bosses to fire them, and instead talk about why anyone felt compelled to protest in the first place.

I'm guessing I'll be thinking about all of this for a while--

Write on,


  1. Thanks for noting the exchange between adult and child. I wonder if more children are confused by what is happening.

  2. I hope we will all be thinking about it for a while and really evaluating the "why" you propose. Discomfort is an unfortunate feeling but with a fortunate outcome when we do better as a result. I hope we embrace the discomfort for the good of all. Glad you had this conversation. I'm betting he liked it too.

  3. So many important ideas and questions you raise in this post. I do believe we distract from difficult conversations and we do need to find a way to keep the dialogue focused on the real issues. Thank you for opening up the conversation...