I executed operation “room-to-sit” a few weeks ago when a friend visited my apartment. It’s a familiar routine now that I live in South Korea, where space is limited in my one-room studio. When she arrived, a stack of notebooks decorated my couch, which I embarrassingly cleared to make room for her. One was a prayer journal, another a thought journal, another a creative journal, another…
Over the past few years, significant space on my blog has been dedicated to a discussion of issues related to educational equity and social justice in low-income communities. Given that much of my career has been committed to addressing these issues, I expect to continue writing about both subjects in the foreseeable future!
“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” ~ Deuteronomy 32:4
“For I the LORD love justice.” ~ Isaiah 61:8a
A picture hangs in the hallway of my school, put there by students completing a project. A three-year-old child named Alan lies face-down in the sand of a beach. His lifeless body looks cold and wet. Arms limp at his sides. I pass it every day on my way to the office, and the picture cries out, “Save me!” in haunting lamentations as I walk.
It’s too late, I think in grief. You’re already dead.
I’ve moved away from the discussion/commentary structure of my previous posts in this series to instead just listing the main sources that Alexander cites, along with the facts they reference. My impression has been that most people reading this series are scrolling through for relevant information to aid their own research. Hopefully formatting each post to more clearly focus on the sources and facts will be more helpful.]
In Chapter 3, Alexander focuses her attention on the racial disparities between groups in the criminal justice system that cannot be explained by higher rates of crime, drugs, or other factors. Here are the major talking points and some of the evidence she offers in support:
“Hey, look at my eyes!” The girl pressed her fingers to the corners of her eyelids and slanted them upwards, then downwards, then upwards again. “Haha!” She started chanting in a sing-song manner, “Ching-chong, ching-chong!”
We were at summer camp and eating ice cream at a picnic table. I was barely 12 and joined her happily, as did our friends. When she saw that I joined, she dropped her hands and laughed even louder, slamming the table and saying, “You look so funny!”
I didn’t get it. Wasn’t that the point? I thought we all looked funny. But I could tell from her inflection that I was the one who looked particularly funny.
The door swung open, and the school counselor pushed a seven-year-old child into the room. As the child’s eyes met my own, his face turned pale white. I groaned inwardly but maintained a stoic expression.
“This one of yours?” the counselor said.
I nodded, and the counselor ushered Dustin to an empty table. He settled down in the back of the room, and I returned to the group of staff members at my own table. These meetings always ruined my day.
Dustin had entered the school a few weeks ago. Quite frankly, I was less than thrilled by his arrival. Thanks to him, my classroom expanded — yet again —to an impossible 28 children, an unacceptably large number for kindergarten. And he wasn’t just the normal addition. He was the kind that liked to curse, punch, scream, run out of the room, hide in various locations, and refuse to listen to any sort of command or request whatsoever.
Okay, so the words sound a bit harsh, but I promise you that my tone of voice and facial expression clearly communicated warmth, love, and kindness. And yes, I did say this to my students. Because my students needed to hear it.
I have avoided talking about the American election with my Korean high schoolers for most of the past few months. It didn’t seem appropriate or even remotely related to what I was teaching. So I just steered away from the topic.
But then we began a culture exchange, where they communicate by video with Americans attending high school in the U.S., and one by one my students were shocked to discover that many of these American young people were Trump supporters. Or at least had parents who were voting for Trump.
Teachers will return to their oversized classrooms filled with immigrant students whose lives have been suddenly upended, and millions of Evangelicals will wait expectantly for the Republican President and Republican-controlled House and Senate to deliver on their pro-life promises.
I was born in America. I was raised to believe that the Bill of Rights was God’s gift to mankind. I grew up memorizing the preamble to the Constitution and thoroughly internalizing the absolute necessity of the “right to bear arms.” I know all about the dangers of tyrannical government and the importance of self-defense. I get it. I get the Second Amendment and all the reasons why people protect it so religiously.
I’m proud to say that Korea is my new home! The photo above was taken a few weeks ago in Jeonju, a traditional/historical district in Korea. While I did participate in the lion dance, the picture is not of me but of two friends instead. I guess I wasn’t good enough to have my picture taken!
My move to Korea has been the culmination of a two-year long process involving much prayer, research, preparation, and counsel from others. If you’ve been in my life over the past two years, you may have been a part of this process! While it is difficult to summarize all of my reasons for moving overseas, I can at the very least try to give you an idea.