A few times in my life I’ve became focused on my health and wellness. For me, this centers on having my blood pressure remain within a normal range. Making that choice requires me to be incredibly intentional about nutrition and exercise.
For instance, I learned it took me running a full mile to counter sodium intake I accumulated from one piece of cheese pizza. Therefore, when the delectable smell of cheese pizza found its way into my nostrils, I would make a quick assessment. Do I feel like running a mile for this warm and gooey goodness, or do I politely decline?
Sometimes the answer was yes. Other times the answer was no.
I began to understand the discipline and intentionality it would take for me to succeed. Honestly though, whenever I reached that measure of success, I wanted my reward to be the ability to eat unlimited cheese pizza without running the miles. My cardiologist gently confirmed it does not work that way for my genetic make-up. To maintain a normal blood pressure, my daily regime will always have to include medication, exercise, and nutritional interventions. I am incredibly grateful to have access to what I need to live a full life, which is not true for everyone with hypertension.
My own journey to keep my heart healthy reminds me of what it means to be on an antiracist journey. The truth is racism, like hypertension, is a public health crisis. Unchecked, they both can kill. We must act because we all deserve to live a full life.
Being antiracist educators requires us to remain aware of how racial injustice rears its head in our schools and communities, and to constantly reflect and act to create more just classrooms. This may be in line with or counter to our socialization – the norms, values, beliefs and behaviors — we learned about race and racism. You may have never talked about race with a caregiver or your friends. Or like me, you talked about it all the time. You may have only been awakened to the idea of racial injustice as an adult. Or like me, you may have wondered how so many people could have missed the ways in which racial injustice manifests itself in daily interactions. How we start the course varies widely.
However, now that you are on your antiracist journey, the only direction you should want to go is forward. Start by identifying the interventions you need. What more do you need to learn? What conversations do you need to have? What nourishment do you need? Whatever you do, keep going.
Be wary of thinking you have arrived. There’s no doubt becoming an antiracist educator is hard work, and it will be tempting at some point on your journey to look back and say, I have gone far enough. We have only gone far enough when racism, both interpersonal and structural, no longer negatively affects the health of millions of people, including our students. That’s when our antiracist future is realized.
P. S. Dealing with and confronting racism can be stressful and take a toll on your health. Check your blood pressure regularly and learn more about hypertension from the American Heart Association.