In the Lake

When the world once again erupted in response to the death of George Floyde this past spring, books related to antiracism topped the charts for book sales. Feeling like I had to do something and connect with others, I reached out to my principal about forming a summer book club. She was supportive, so we recruited a few leaders and put an invitation out into the world.

We invited our staff to read This Book is Antiracist by Tiffany Jewell. We selected meeting dates, planning dates, and created slides to guide our virtual meetings. As I logged into our very first meeting, back in July, I was anxious to see if anyone else would join. If people came, how would the conversation go? This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up ...

We had 14 people attend our first meeting and I don’t think I stopped smiling for the entire forty five minutes we met. I felt so proud of our community for showing up, for what I knew would be uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations. That night, we all shared why we had come to the meeting, most people agreeing that they wanted to be part of making a change.

As our summer book club meets went on throughout the summer, our group got smaller, but the conversations remained meaningful.

During our final meeting last week, four of us met to discuss the section of the book called Choosing My Path: Taking Action and Responding to Racism. In this section, Tiffany Jewell, shares an analogy relating to the work of justice. “Imagine we’re all traveling along on the same lake. We start at the same place and the end goal (of justice and liberation) is the same, but we have different means and paces to get to where we need to be.” She goes on to name that some people are speeding along on a speedboat, “making waves.” Others, are on a canoe, “paddling along at a steady pace.” Some people are swimming, “greatly affected by everything and everyone around them.”

We invited the book club to reflect on where they were in the lake.

As we contemplated this, my friend Jess read this section from the text:

“This is not your work alone. It can’t be. Working in solidarity with others is an incredible way to take action and build collective power for change.”

I reflected, that in our first meeting, most people shared that they had come to the meeting, because they wanted to be part of making change- although, most admitted that they often worried about saying the “wrong things” when it came to conversations related to race. This is still a worry I have, but I now know that my silence is part of the problem. I’m feeling braver being uncomfortable, knowing I’m not alone in the lake.

Our summer book club has sparked a feeling of hope. I know that there is work to be done and most days, I’m not quite sure where to start. But I look at the world calling for change and knowing that there are people in my community also in the lake, fills me with a hope that together, we will continue to grow and begin to make change…together.

7 thoughts on “In the Lake

  1. This book is next on my stack! I love that you and your colleagues have been having this conversations. That is powerful. And I’m interested in the lake analogy. I love this line in your post – I’m feeling braver being uncomfortable, knowing I’m not alone in the lake. Some days I feel like I am drowning in the lake, so unsure about what to do next. Knowing that there are a group of people doing this work helps me feel like I will be able to float.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Together is, most of the time, better. Together we read and talk and wonder how to move forward. I admire your getting this one off the ground so quickly. Your passion and desire to know and learn and work together is one of the many qualities I love in you. Although I only made it to the first meeting, I’m with you, it was beautiful to see our colleagues come together all in the name of learning, moving forward and change.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This line really struck me: “I know that there is work to be done and most days, I’m not quite sure where to start. ” I, too, participated in a summer book club on Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist.” I know that experience was just the beginning, but like you, I feel more hopeful that I’m on the right journey. Now it’s just a matter of find the places I can affect for change. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that lake question – especially since I do live on a lake. This book is on my list so thank you for encouraging me to purchase it.
    One realization I had after the TWT anti-racist book club this summer was the importance of having allies. Knowing there is a friend or peer that I can chat with to discuss a possible idea or specific phrasing gives me courage to move on. Seems like your in district book club might provide that same opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am also proud to be on that lake with you. Those meetings also gave me hope, and I was disappointed to miss the last one due to wifi issues. Thank you for being a leader and I look forward to continue this work with you and others.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really liked this book, so I’m glad to hear that it spoke to your book club. I, too, liked the lake metaphor at the end – along with her insistence that we can speak up in multiple ways. I have learned that my silence is a problem & am preparing to do things that will make me less ‘likable’ but which are important. Also, in writing about this, you freed me up to write about our school book clubs today – thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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