Discuss Here! How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

Good evening educators,

We’ll use this thread for our discussion on Kiese Laymon’s How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.  The questions are “How can I positively impact the education of AA students?” and “How do we sustain positive cultures, and how can we motivate and inspire students to learn?” These questions provide a frame for our discussion; however, our discussion is not limited to these questions. Feel free to pose your own questions.

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9 thoughts on “Discuss Here! How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

  1. “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” by Kiese Laymon told the story of a Southern African-American educator and the ongoing battle between right and wrong, value and insignificance and the painful realization of the “attempts” to be a human in post-racial America.

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  2. In the text Laymon discusses an instance when he and his friend were clowning around and just being kids. It made me think, “Do we allow our students to be kids?” How does this affect our teaching practices? Even in the case of Tamir Rice, he was killed for literally being a kid playing with a toy.

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    • To be honest, I feel as if there is too much energy being expended (noise) – I tend to shy away from even introducing the activity at all in the classroom. Luckily, for my neighbors in the hallway, they can expect to hear some “learning” with the avid use of technology in my class.

      For example, we were playing Kahoot, a game using cloud based technology, and the students were using their cell phones in the classroom. The kids compete to answer the questions accurately and in the quickest time.

      Of course, our kids are competitive and do not back down from a challenge.

      The whooping and trash talk about “Law and the Workplace” vocabulary terms grew with volume. I was happy the kids were spitting out facts and correcting one another.

      I almost felt that we were having “too much fun.”

      We definitely don’t let them be kids.

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      • That sounds incredible! If I still taught middle school, I would love to try that. Where do you think your idea of them having “too much fun” comes from? For me it always came from being at a school where “every second counts” and a pervasive idea that learning should look a certain way – or rather that learning for the students in my school in Upper 9th/8th ward New Orleans should look a certain way.

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  3. When I think of Tamir Rice, I also think of the 6th and 7th grade AA boys who look and act like him. I will make sure I allow them to be kids and foster a positive relationship on purpose!

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  4. It is so sad that we have to have this discussion with our kids at such a young age. Only to tell them the police officers literally get away with murder! Although they may not have this problem in my school, they may be exposed to it at some time in their life. How do we overcome this when the power is out of our hands? Peaceful protesting is not working….

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    • Right! It’s very sad. In Laymon’s text, he talks about arguing with his mother, “We’re fighting because she raised me to never ever forget I was born on parole, which means no black hoodies in wrong neighborhoods, no jogging at night, hands in plan sight at all times in public, no intimate relationships with white women, never driving over the speed limit or doing those rolling stops at stop signs, always speaking the King’s English in the presence of white folks, never being outperformed in school or in public by white students… He then goes on to ask her about how are we able to be free with “white folk as traffic cops of your life?” His mother’s reply is that she’s not talking about Freedom, but rather she’s talking about Survival.

      Perhaps #TamirRice may have not learned or was not taught this concept of Survival, and this reality is beyond unfortunate.

      To answer your question, I believe that it’s not over. We must keep believing. We have to continue to read, discuss, critique, call out, and dismantle systems of oppressive power and the ideologies that uphold, sustain and support them.

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      • Agreed. I think reading, discussion, and critique are central to “calling out” and dismantling current systems that we have. How to continue to bring more people in to do that is the tricky part. And the past few months, I have also been thinking about HOW people choose to dismantle current oppressive systems and both the perceived and underlying motives.

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