As the headache blossomed, so, too, the questions

I am not a morning person.  At all.  I often remark to anyone I meet that I am not a human being before 10 am.  I know this.  Anyone I’ve talked to knows this.  I don’t know what possessed me to plan such an active day.  

I’m teaching a course about writing for empowerment and social justice, particularly in writing alongside Kenyan women and children.  JAN 180 at Saint Mary’s College this year.  I’ve been planning this course for over a year now.  I’ve also been working alongside several Black professors (from all across campus, in different roles) and a white accomplice/ally to plan a co-taught course, Black Lives Matter: Approaching An Emic View of Communities of African Descent.  Today, I taught a two hour session for that class on Citizen:  An American Lyric and writing for social justice and resistance, facilitated an hour conversation as a continuation of the class discussion for others in the community and those interested in the class, went back home to do some final arrangements for the class, came back to campus to do my last minute preparations, taught a two hour class, supported students in their assignments, and finally started to write this blog.  

About 11am, that’s when the fatigue headache started and it’s about 10pm as I start to write this.  It has only been eased at this point by calories (eating lunch and dinner) and a hot shower.  

More than fatigue, this headache may be coming from my anxiety and nervousness about the trip to come.  I’m walking alongside my mother and co-instructor and 13 college students.  It may be coming to from connecting with so many emotions and experiencing the depth of thought from the students (35 this morning, about 15 this afternoon, and 13 this evening).  It’s a lot for someone who identifies as an empath to engage with, especially starting from a place of not greeting the day with ease in transition to wakefulness.  

Here’s one idea that I continue to work with:  that of generational joy, epigenetics and the study of gene expression.  Today, particularly in the classes this morning and afternoon, there were so many stories of microaggressions that the students had experienced or witnessed.  I also shared some of my own.  I shared with the students how powerful writing can be for the self and for social change, that writers are also significant resistance forces against injustice.  I shared with them, too, that we must attempt to hold onto joy, struggle for joy and write that onto our cores so that, this, too, passes on to the future.  Whether we are writing the poem or the tweet or joy that influences the expression of our genes, we are writing resistance.  

It’s an idea that I think of as I am taking a group to Kenya, too.  How do we challenge our deficit ideologies and learn from the vast cultural wealth of the different communities we will visit?  How will seeing the cultural wealth of others help us to see ourselves?  

Below are the links to the student blogs.  










Julia S.


Julia Z.


#twt, #Kenya, #Jan180

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