I have wanted to say something about Black Lives Matter, but it is a struggle to speak about a movement. Black Lives Matter is personal, but it is the ocean compared to the pond of my life. The ocean is huge and hard to fathom, and hard to write about; there’s just too much THERE there.I can wrap my mind around talking about black lives, black people, who live in my heart.
That’s what I want to do, and I hope it will inspire you to think about who had an impact on your life. Many of the most loving and powerful teachers I had growing up are black. They are with me every day because they guided me on the path that led here and helped me become who I am. In second grade, Mrs. Brooks was my teacher. I think she was the first black woman I really knew for any length of time. Let me give you a little context.
Looking back, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, doesn’t seem racist to me, but there was a socio-economic divide a mile wide. Most white people were on one side, and many of the black people were on the other. There wasn’t a lot of association across that interface.
That made Mrs. Brooks even more special. She was my ambassador of loving-kindness and education. Throughout my elementary school years, she was a presence. She loved all of us, expected a lot out of us, and always wanted to know how we were doing.
After college, I spent some time as a substitute teacher where I grew up. I had the privilege to stand in for Mrs. Brooks on a couple of occasions. Once she knew about it, she specifically requested me if she knew that she needed to take a day off. It was an honor to stand in her class, plain and simple. I got to give back what I was given.
Mrs. Brooks lives in me and she is part of the tapestry I see when I think of Black Lives Matter.