And Now They’re Burning: S1E6 with David Johns

“I’m not well. I am weary,” David Johns opens his statement with raw, honest, truth. He is an unapologetic voice for the babies. He stands for justice and equity, demanding accountability every step of the way. As Executive Director at the National Black Justice Coalition, he spearheads initiatives to end racism, homophobia, and LGBTQ+ biases. Jonathan and David sat down to discuss the season’s question about COVID-19 being a necessary disruption, acknowledging that it also magnified long standing “norms” overdue for eradication. 

David shares how, as a minority across multiple identity dimensions, he and many others don’t want to “go back to normal”. Normalcy in this country includes stripping natives of their land and resources, transatlantic slavery, and most recently, separating and caging children seeking asylum with their families.

If we all agree to remove our rose-tinted glasses and turn to the future with our eyes wide open, David shares how he believes we can take advantage of this disruption:

  1. Sit in your privilege and acknowledge that there are systems in place designed to shield you from the systems of oppression. It is uncomfortable. Feel it.
  2. Invest your time and finances to help us change these wrongs. The work is being done, whether you’re hands on or not, but when you leverage your power and resources, we celebrate that.
  3. This is our opportunity to reset. We’re not moving, repeating history. Walk with us as we reimagine and build freedom, liberty, and justice for all.

David doesn’t stop here. Tune into Season 1 Episode 6 to hear David speak about “teaching the babies”, designing programs that include and encourage diversity, and prioritizing wellness instead test scores. “In the last two decades the suicide rates for black kids have increased, they’ve doubled… which is especially sad when you acknowledge that for every other group of children based on race and ethnicity, the numbers have gone in the opposite direction.”

COVID-19 is the trigger that sent us all home. Victims are full-time with their abusers; the safety and security of the 9-5 job or 7-3 school day is gone. This is not a vacation.

When we return to our offices and school buildings, welcome these children back with understanding. Ask them how they’re doing. Listen to them. Tell them you missed them. And if you don’t miss them? If you think they should “get back to work”, then remember this:

Stop. Be mindful of where we are and accept that often our greatest value as an educator is the ability to acknowledge what is and sit in the discomfort of figuring out what should be… any educator who is unwilling or unable to appreciate that should consider another profession.

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