Making Students Aware Could Get Me in Trouble in a Classroom Today

by on September 14, 2022 · 5 comments

in Education, From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

I might be in trouble
if I were in a classroom today,
approaching learning
as I did in the early 60’s,
trying to hip my students
to what was happening in their world,
first, letting them know who their teacher was
as a living breathing human being,
by telling them of my upbringing
as a Black boy
in a city

that withheld from me

rights given to me by virtue

of me being a citizen of the country,

my family going back to when the

slave ships docked

and let them out into

a world of misery.

I was delving unknowingly,

yet naturally,

into what is now known as CRT,

critical race theory,

and then I listened to their experiences

with feeling discriminated against,

no matter their color

or gender,

because everyone resents

being looked down upon,

and we’d spend times throughout the year,

in a variety of ways,

through singing or creating sketches

or writing prose and poetry

or dancing,

entertaining, aesthetically,

how we, as individuals,

might contribute to turning

our nation around.

I was trying to simply make them aware

that they can dream and pursue

such thinking.

I can’t ponder doing it any other way.

And, based on how I taught in those days,

I might be very much on the carpet these days

because if, say, a book was banned

just willy-nilly and out of hand,

I wouldn’t be able to wait

to get that piece of literature in my,

and my students’ hands,

so, we, like forensic scientists

or an Agatha Christie sleuth

can find clues

as to why some one didn’t want us to

skim through or peruse

a particular author’s views,

and then we’d debate what

we uncovered

and discovered

from our particular-points-of-view,

doing what citizens

in a free society or supposed to

and should do,

think things through,


as becoming aware

doesn’t always come easy.

And it would be almost impossible

to help students

understand their world

if you weren’t allowed to

say the word “gay”

as some communities

are trying to do today.

Now, back in my teaching days

“gay” wasn’t widely expressed

but I remember having to address

“He runs like a girl” attitudes

with the question

“What’s wrong with the way girls run?”

especially when, one year, the fastest runner in the school

was of the female persuasion,

and all I was getting at

was the fact

that when it comes down to it,

we’re all just humans,

deserving of respect.

And learning in a classroom

should be centered around the “truth,”

something the ban-minded folks

want no part of

and I can’t even imagine

me hiding reality

from students when making them aware

of their world

is central to why I ever wanted to teach

in the first place.

Oh, so like I said,

I might be in trouble

if I were in a classroom today,

in a society that’s leaning towards

dumbing down its citizenry.

Just thinking about it saddens me.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren September 14, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Yes, we must resist the thought police, a hallmark of repressive regimes. Alarming.


Thomas L Gayton September 14, 2022 at 1:42 pm



Chris September 14, 2022 at 1:57 pm

The irony of that is, rightists are convinced schools are becoming epicenters of leftist propaganda.
On another note, what’s with the all caps?


Linda Webb September 14, 2022 at 3:41 pm

You always say things so well.
I often have these same thoughts about my teaching. Not sure I’d last long in today’s classroom.


JC September 14, 2022 at 3:42 pm

Amen, Ernie.


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