I Am Numb

Discussing race in a time of hopelessness…

By Adell Cothorne
I would love to say my heart is heavy as I try to process the senseless executions this week of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Yet, saying my heart is *heavy* would be a lie. My heart is NUMB. I am NUMB.

Black_Lives_Matter_protest_against_St._Paul_police_brutality_(21552673186)I am numb because I cannot fathom how much more it will take for some REAL change to occur. I am NOT condoning violence. But I DO wonder how many men and women of color have to lose their lives at routine traffic stops or outside storefronts before something tangible and systemic is done to ensure the right to live.

One cannot pinpoint just one situation that brings us to where we are today. There are a myriad of situations and conditions which have made some members of our society view other persons as animalistic or *less than.*

We can go back centuries and read the works of one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. Yes, him again. In Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson hinted that African Americans’ skin color may be derived from bile and they produced a very strong and disagreeable odor.  He also wrote of how African Americans were inferior when it came to reasoning, imagination, and the composition of complicated melodies. Trust me, there are PLENTY other noble statesman who can be called out for their racist thoughts, but Jefferson’s views were used as the bedrock for a racist nation in which we currently reside.

stop killing usTalking race
As a long-time principal in both urban and suburban school districts, issues of race and equity have been at the center of my life. These days, as I transition from principal to teacher at a predominantly white Catholic university, discussions of race occupy a central place in my classroom. Many of my students will teach in areas with a sizeable population of African Americans, including Baltimore City. A number of them have shared with me that this will be the first time they will interact with people of color on a consistent basis. Each class period usually involves a discussion on how race impacts teaching and learning. My students are preparing for future teaching careers in which race will be front and center, even as they try to make sense of a world in which violence against people of color is a daily occurrence. These are the sorts of questions and comments they have for me. Continue reading →