What a year it has been. On one hand, our country and communities are struggling to endure an exhausting news cycle, relaying seemingly endless stories that pit citizen against citizen depending on one’s political views, gender, religion – the list goes on.
However, through the darkness, there is light being shed on the stories and experiences of marginalized peoples who have been silenced for decades, if not centuries. Individuals are speaking up, and more importantly, being heard. The potential for honoring another’s experience as truth is the turning point that we all need in order to press ahead and create positive change.
Consider the pain and struggle of the black community in our nation, and the rise of Black Lives Matter beginning in 2013. Despite some denigrating this movement as “divisive,” it has nevertheless prompted ongoing conversations regarding race and privilege, and taken action against the systemic injustices that are persistent in our inner circles as well as in our country.
As the threat to DACA has thrust the lives of undocumented immigrant children into the spotlight, we are beginning to understand their world of fear, and we can empathize with their desire for their families to remain whole. The prominence of the #MeToo Campaign, in light of the persistent sexual harassment and assault that women continue to face in the workplace, has drawn back the curtain of trauma that survivors have had to endure for far too long.
Despite the pain that has resulted in these events, 2017 has been a year of triumph for those who have experienced trauma, because now more than ever, people are listening. Frederick Douglass wrote, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.” We have struggled, both individually and collectively. But we have grown from places of discomfort, expanded our notions of what is true, and have listened to one another. Whether or not we choose to engage in conversations surrounding these issues, there is an understanding that we are all stakeholders, and share a responsibility to ensure that the year ahead proves to be better than those of the past.
Liz Kleinrock has taught first through fourth grades at Citizens of the World Charter School Siver Lake in Los Angeles, California. A graduate of UCLA’s Teacher Education Program, Liz is dedicated to teaching with a social justice lens, and has created lessons and units of study surrounding issues such as race, equity, and diversity for elementary-aged students. She joined the TI Task Force’s Communications Subcommittee earlier this year, and is an educated mentor for SXSW EDU. Liz can be followed on Instagram @teachandtransform, or reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.