February 2016

[caption id="attachment_771" align="aligncenter" width="458"]Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.45.08 PM Teaching a lesson on skin color with my students[/caption] It hits me mid-lesson. Two weeks into the school year. I’ve spent the entire month of August setting up my classroom, preparing unit plans, rehearsing lessons, structuring my schedule so that everything goes just right, drilling procedures into my students day after day from the moment they arrive to the daily goodbye, and tirelessly calling parents to establish student-family connections, and then it hits me. The predictable existential crisis. I pause in the middle of a lesson and look around at the snotty-nosed, fidgety mess of little bodies playing with their shoelaces in front of me, and I think to myself, “What the heck am I doing with my life?” Some teachers naturally love the children in their classroom. I am not one of those teachers. Each year, as I meet the new army of youngsters that I’ve been tasked with educating, I secretly stifle a feeling of dismay as I realize that I’m inexorably stuck with this brood of germs for the next ten months of my life. The summer feels eternally distant. And then something else happens. A different crisis.

Note: This is the third installment in a series discussing Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. For other posts in this series see: the new jim crow In Chapter 2, Alexander shifts her attention away from race to focus on the overall impact of the Drug War and its implications. She pinpoints the Drug War as the single greatest reason for the unprecedented rise in America’s incarceration rate and charges America’s “tough on crime” posture with unraveling our constitutional rights. Here are some of the major talking points from Chapter 2: