For my last post, I have a confession.
At the start of this blog series, I was a lost writer. My original interest was not wholly genuine and the research was largely self-seeking. I wanted to see how differences in history lessons today could be linked to rifts leftover from the Civil War partially because I thought it was my most intriguing idea and partially because I thought it could be easy.
The topic I began to run with was huge and quickly led me to a crossroads with many paths to choose from. My first posts were a little scattered as I struggled to carve out a clear focus. Some hardly dipped below the surface of what my eventual analysis post would cover. I do not mean to discredit their content – I think the broader topics in my short posts (school segregation, teacher salaries, and dialect maps) add to the qualitative aesthetic of my analysis. But a goal of mine then became to use this messy beginning to create a blog with a synergetic nature – where the analysis only has the most impact when viewed in light of the other posts. However, as this analysis post approached, my position as a writer began to shift – I was starting to become uncomfortable.
I watched as my ideas connected and sparked and soon found myself entrenched in some heavy articles. The differences in educational standards I pursued led me to some of the darkest parts of our country, places I feel ashamed on behalf of, including the websites for hate groups that actively seek to stomp out the voices of the weak in place of fear and bigotry. Other research began to surface that showed how the nation I am living in is not the one I thought it was, that many more people are affected by classroom outcomes than I had realized.
It was then that it happened.
In the midst of research on school diversity and teaching outcomes, I found myself in the story. I was caught off guard as I realized the issues I’ve covered aren’t happening in some far off land or distant place, but they are happening to me, they are happening to us. In the midst of all the stories and studies and articles and interviews it is so easy to take myself out of the equation, to view the research from the outside, and then be able to walk away from it. But this blog has made me challenge exactly that. It made me question, deeply, who I am as a person, and more than that: not only as a person, but as a middle-class, white male in America. In all honestly I think so little about some of these problems that have shaped the lives of those around me. With everything I’ve learned, I can no longer be the boy blinded by his upbringing, but must be the one who is aware of the very real issues around him. While I cannot entirely attribute this blog to my newfound understanding of my position of privilege, I can wholeheartedly say that it has left an unexpected impact on me.
I started out with goals larger and far more general than I had realized at the time; because even the way that students are taught about the Civil War is connected to the actual war itself. That dark moment in our history is not through – yet. I have given all of this to my readers, messages bottled up in posts and tossed into the vastness of the Internet, in the blind hope that something I’ve written will strike them in such a way that they too will find themselves. I understand the blogging world a little better now: the urgency, the focus on identity, the way bloggers lay their posts out in a beautiful, unsuspecting array. They all have a message to share and blogging is a way to do just that.
This platform has allowed me to create an inviting tone writing as some silly persona, but make no mistake that the language and concision I use is by accident. It is to convey my single, clear message: Our education system today breeds students who are susceptible to some of the compelling arguments made by the worst of the racists. We need to reform it so that our students, our future, do not leave as victims of murky fabrications, but can walk away shining through the darkness with truth.