Dare to Care

construct, create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

12/Feb/2019
by Denise Krebs
0 comments

Silent No More

Her name was Gwen and she was 8 years old, a year younger than me. She knew exactly what she was doing when she snatched that wallet from the ground, ripped out the few dollars, and dropped the incriminating wallet into the nearest garbage can. Within moments, I saw another little girl crying, flanked by an adult who was helping her look for her dropped wallet.

Looking back after all these decades, I remember that scene as clearly as if it happened yesterday. I was paralyzed with sadness for the little girl crying without the money she needed for opening day at the ball field. I watched in disbelief that Gwen could ruthlessly take her money. I was dumbfounded–literally found dumb–I did not say a word. To anyone. Until now. It wasn’t that I was unable to speak; I was unwilling to speak. I also remember that I was sad for Gwen, and I was angry that she could so effortlessly carry out that bad idea. Had I found the wallet, I believe I would have happily turned it over to the crying girl, “Look, I found this! Is this what you’re looking for?”

Well, by God’s constant grace, I grew up to be mostly the I-found-this-how-can-I-help-you person, rather than the take-the-money-and-run person at the ballpark. However, I also grew up to be mostly not angry enough to speak up about injustices. The silent person who watched Gwen take that girl’s money without so much as uttering a peep was not sad and angry enough. Whatever I feared about speaking up was stronger than my sadness and anger over the injustice.

Today that story came to my memory. It reminded me of my complicity in white supremacy.

When I was born, Jim Crow was in full swing. Even in suburban L.A., we still did plenty of racist things–the words we used, the costumes we wore, the jokes we told, the fears we nursed, the near complete segregation of ball fields, schools, shops, neighborhoods, churches and everything else I frequented.

As laws were passed to give civil rights to people of color, my family slowly began to change. I tried to become one of the ‘good’ white people. I didn’t do blatantly racist things any more. I didn’t use racist words. I made friends with people who were bused into my school in 1974. (Finally…two decades after Brown v. Board of Education!) I tried to be the good and nice person who wouldn’t take a little girl’s wallet. The person who wouldn’t be racist. The person who would never be a white supremacist.

However, even as I tried to not to be racist, I knew deep down that me being a good person would never solve society’s problem.

I rejoiced with the country when Obama was elected. I was a 30-year independent voter who temporarily became a Democrat so I could caucus for Obama in Iowa. I didn’t pay too much attention to the hatred and vitriol with which some people viewed his election and presidency. I thought they were a racist minority that was gradually getting snuffed out and sent into the crevices of society.

Then the unthinkable happened and I finally noticed. The racist vitriol, among other factors and entities, elected trump to the presidency. OK. Then I began to get it. An individual’s “goodness” or “niceness” is really not enough. This was more urgent than I had ever realized.

Thanks to the writings of Layla Saad, I now have names for what I was doing as a ‘good’ white person.

White silence.
White exceptionalism.
White apathy.

“Here are a few examples of White Apathy in action:
• White Apathy shows up as laziness, tiredness, fear, boredom, numbness, perfectionism, turning away from the news, and other apathetic feelings and actions when it comes to engaging in anti-racism practice.
• White Apathy shows up when people have done very little anti-racism work, so they don’t understand just how urgent this work is.
• It shows up as White Silence, White Exceptionalism and inaction because of your attachment to the idea that you are a ‘good white person’.”

Me and White Supremacy Workbook, page 87, by Layla Saad

White privilege.

“I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks.”

From “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies” (1988), by Peggy McIntosh (You can read an excerpt by McIntosh, which includes 50 bits of daily privilege that people like me have for no reason except our skin color.)

White people, we are all complicit in keeping racism and white supremacy as strong as ever in our country.

Our institutional, systemic, toxic, and endemic racism needs dismantling.

It’s going to take education. This is black history month. Let’s get educated. We all need to stop justifying and start listening.

I don’t want to be silent anymore.

05/Feb/2019
by Denise Krebs
0 comments

Book Covers No Explanation Explanation

 

I took a challenge from Jill Canillas Daley (@jcd118) to post seven book covers, one a day for seven days. No explanation, no reviews.

I joined in the challenge. (It reminded me of chain letters from a generation ago, for those of you as old as me.) Anyway, I decided to choose from the limited books I have in Bahrain and I easily chose seven good books.  I posted them, as instructed. No explanation. No review.

However, I decided to also post a few book covers during the week with a bit of comment, and I’m including those here because they are too important to post without some explanation.

America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis

I had Jim Wallis’ book in my Kindle for a year before I got around to it. I bought it when it first came out, but when I started following #CleartheAir, I noticed I had work to do. I went back and read the book. It started me on a journey.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Robin DiAngelo was the next book that came to my attention. I was struck with new thoughts after a lifetime of living with my privilege and not really noticing it.

Quote: In my workshops, I often ask people of color, “How often have you given white people feedback on our unaware yet inevitable racism? How often has that gone well for you?” Eye-rolling, head-shaking, and outright laughter follow, along with the consensus of rarely, if ever. I then ask, “What would it be like if you could simply give us feedback, have us graciously receive it, reflect, and work to change the behavior?” Recently a man of color sighed and said, “It would be revolutionary.” I ask my fellow whites to consider the profundity of that response. It would be revolutionary if we could receive, reflect, and work to change the behavior.

Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla Saad

Layla speaks directly to people who are holders of white privilege. I was confronted with my white apathy and white silence. She has to keep telling us white people the same things over and over again. When I went to her Instagram posts and read some of the comments, I see white people commenting on her posts who continue to center our world on whiteness, with blatant white superiority, tone policing (I could listen if you would say it in a nicer way.”), or white exceptionalism (“I’m a good white ally. I’m glad I’m not like those others.”) And the rest of us get away with casually viewing or ignoring because of our white apathy and silence. The world goes on, with us not doing this work with urgency and fidelity, comfortable in our own white supremacy and privilege.

Quote: The Me And White Supremacy Workbook is a one of a kind self-guided workbook and personal anti-racism tool that has been designed to help you to take ownership of your participation in the oppressive system of white supremacy, and to help you take responsibility for dismantling the way that this system manifests both within you and within your communities. This workbook is part education, part activation. It helps you to take a clear look at the different multifaceted aspects of white supremacy and how they operate in both subtle and direct ways within you, and within others.

Layla Saad’s Workbook is available for free download at her website: laylafsaad.com

White Rage by Carol Anderson

This one hurt the most. It was difficult and important to read history through the eyes of a black scholar who has recognized white rage throughout our history, white rage against black people. I have read a precious few history books by authors of color.

We have a history that has never been repented of. We never made amends, and we are living with the harvest that comes from planting seeds of rage for hundreds of years. We reap what we sow, and until we rip out the crop, burn up the weeds, plow the ground, and get it ready for a replanting, we will keep dealing with the same ugly chapters repeated over and over again in new centuries.

It will be a lifelong and intentional battle to stop systemic, toxic, and endemic racism in our country. I’ve committed to joining the battle.

Which books do you need to post with an explanation?

Watch Professor Anderson talk about White Rage.

11/Jan/2019
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Teacher Rewards

I have rarely regretted going into education; it is the hardest and best profession there is. It is a job full of creative opportunities, rich relationships and camaraderie, and surprises.

Today I was reading student dialogue journals.* This gem came along:

Dear Mrs. Denise,

How are you? I’m fine. You remembered me when I was in KG2. I always say “I don’t know.” And now in Grade 5, you’re saying to me I’m a good problem solver.

Your student,

Ali

 

Of course, how could I forget Ali? When I met him, it really did seem the only thing he could say in English was, “I don’t know.”

It was five years ago, and I was new to Bahrain, new to ELL students, and new to kindergartners. I learned a lot that year. So did Ali.

Fast forward five years, and I have the pleasure and privilege of teaching Ali’s class again. Now, he doesn’t say ‘I don’t know.’ He has learned to figure out what he doesn’t know through observation, good questions, and a desire to learn. I am so proud of him.

My response to Ali’s letter was easy to write. His letter was a delightful reminder and a sweet teacher reward for today.

What teacher reward did you receive today? Did you notice?


*Dialogue journals are a great activity in the English language learner classroom. I learned about the process through a TESOL book called Dialogue Journal Writing for Non-Native English Speakers: A Teacher’s Handbook. Teachers and students share dialogues in a notebook. The student writes about anything, asking questions about academics or life. The teacher writes back, modeling good writing and answering questions students have posed. The teacher writes a reply of comparable length to what the student wrote. This is a time for authentic conversation, not convention corrections, though you did notice I asked Ali to use I, instead of i for the personal pronoun. Occasionally I will give them one thing to work on, especially something like “I” that we’ve worked on and I expect mastery.

More resources about Dialogue Journals

 

22/Aug/2017
by Denise Krebs
9 Comments

Piling Metaphors

Piles…

The story of my life.

It seems I’ve lived with them for an eternity.

School papers, ministry details, family matters. Piles everywhere.

Are they a metaphor for a busy mind?

My busy mind?

Are they creativity, genius, and unlimited opportunities?

Or are my piles chaos, paralysis, and missed chances?

A little of both, but more often the latter.

At my age, should I just give up and embrace my piles?

One of my favorite fake Einstein quotes says,

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?”

I don’t know, but I pine for an empty desk.

Maybe I even long for an occasionally empty mind.

Today is my last day of summer.

I love the fresh start of a new school year.

The piles get filed.

Hope is reborn.

Productivity prevails.

How long will it last?

Not long enough, I’m afraid.

A clean desk. #cy365 #t365project #jjaproject A picture in a picture.

A post shared by Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs) on

16/Aug/2017
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Time for Family and Home, Not Just School

I had an amazing summer. We have a two-month break from school, and for the whole time I was settled into my small desert island nest. You can’t drive more than an hour in one direction here before you get to the sea and have to turn around.

I was home for two months with time to spend cooking and baking for friends, including never-before-attempted recipes, spending leisurely time with people, cleaning and organizing my home, keeping up with daily household chores, reading, reading, reading, writing, eating out, taking long walks in air conditioned spaces, enjoying my husband, reflecting on U.S. politics and racism, reading the Bible, praying, and never feeling anxious or worried–except occasionally about the way our country is headed.

Our first time making California rolls.

A post shared by Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs) on


My summer is coming to a close, and I am a little bit dreading going back to the never-ending grind of busyness that the school year has become for me the last few years. Recently I read,  “Wrapping Up My Summer of ‘No'” by Katherine Sokolowski. It was like a rallying cry for me to join her fragile movement of finding balance.

Like Katherine, I can relate to making school not only my work, but my life and leisure, as well. My children are grown and live 7,000 miles away, and my husband is an amazing servant who can cook and clean and does. As a result, I have lots of time to work. And like Katherine, I love working. I love creating opportunities, preparing BreakoutEDU games, writing blog posts, publishing student blog posts, shifting the way we’ve always done it, figuring out how best to meet the needs of my English language learners. I am never satisfied and never feel finished with my work at school.

However, that life is less than complete. I don’t have serenity. I miss out on so many moments of joy. I don’t want the unbalanced life of all work.

I’m reading another book right now, The Four Disciplines of Execution. I believe it’s going to help me in my personal life, my teaching life, and my overseeing life as an English teacher coordinator. When we determine our wildly important goals–one or two of them at a time, we can have more success than when we try to do it all. More about that in a future blog post.

So, Katherine, for now, I pray I really will join you in saying no to the things that trip me up. I want to say yes to the wildly important goals that will help me live with no regrets.

Skip to toolbar