8. What is so blatantly wrong that you have to confront it every time you see it? #LifeWideLearning16
— Ben Wilkoff (@bhwilkoff) January 8, 2016
I should say speaking up and acting anytime someone uses ableist language, but it wouldn’t be true. I should say diving into the question of why even subtle racism is racism or why privilege – white, male or otherwise – isn’t simply a made up term and should be examined. I should say those things and a thousand more are the are triggers of acts in the world so blatantly wrong, that I can’t keep silent.
Most of the time, I can and I do have the conversation or make the challenge. And sometimes I don’t, because becoming the person I want to be takes time, the fight can be exhausting, and I’m sometimes unsure of whether another conversation about why we should consider a word other than “crazy” will make a difference.
So, it’s the absolute nature of this question that keeps all of the above off the table as possible answers. I act more often than not, and not all the time.
Except for kids. I speak up for kids. In public places, in semi-public ways, I’ll speak up for kids.
Sometimes, it will be asking, “Is everything okay?” when an adult has clearly reached a frayed end of patience and needs someone to say, “Hey, is this who you want to be to this child?”
Sometimes it’s talking to teachers about what might be the detrimental effects of automatic deductions for late homework.
Sometimes it’s making a tough phone call when I’m worried about self-harm, or making sure there’s a safe, warm, dry bed in the event that home doesn’t look like home anymore.
I speak up and act in the face of the blatantly wrong treatment of the youngest people in our care as a society because I can and because of those who spoke up and acted for me in moments when I needed it.
This isn’t to say I believe children are without agency or the power of self-advocacy. I know full well they often have the most important voices. There are times, though, when those voices shouldn’t be expected to have to speak up or when my own voice can be heard a little better.
While I know I’m not always the person I wish I were for all the kinds of people about whom I care, I find no problem acting on behalf of kids.