This morning, I am going back to school. On the one hand, I am risking my life and my health. On the other hand, I want to see my favorite teachers and my best friends. I would definitely feel more comfortable being remote this week, but that also doesn’t mean that being fully remote is an answer to all the complex aspects of the crisis we are in.
For a very long time, folks have acknowledged that this country has been repeating history.
Those people who sit in positions of power do not care that we are repeating history exactly the way my brain is repeating the same thoughts it was having exactly a year ago… when the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools were arguing about the exact same thing: the safety of our schools.
I have only been on the face of this planet for 14 years, and already my brain has gone in endless cycles and spirals over the same specific, harming details about how this country and our city have failed us. Although I will say, this time, a new aspect has spiraled away into my thoughts, like adding in another ingredient when making cookies. I’m reflecting on the aspect of how institutions are supported by their enablers. And also reflecting on how very annoyed I am by adults.
A lot of times, as humans who organize, we are stuck on the idea that we must constantly respond to anything produced by the institutions of the system. The fact that we are constantly in react and respond mode has definitely brought us all to a draining point, trying to figure out why nothing is working. We constantly find ourselves responding and reacting to these institutional crises, but merely reacting and responding don’t work.
When it comes to returning back to school in the middle of a pandemic, no one has the one right answer.
A lot of times, I feel ignored by adults, both those in the institutions and the adults in our communities. Those adults take up an awful lot of space and don’t understand that we young people have spent a decade or two stuck reacting and responding to them. I notice that the way I am learning to be patient with the adults with whom I coexist is the exact same way those adults are patiently enabling an institution without any idea they are doing so.
One thing that I have had to take in is that the adults in these institutions are robots. Programmed. Doing as the head honcho–also known as the White Man–says. But adults in our communities are flowers, they take in nutrients and they nourish others, they are complex and just like flowers, they need patience… Something that’s hard to give when fighting a system doesn’t come so easy.
When it comes to returning back to school in the middle of a pandemic, no one has the one right answer. But I would like to observe that we are responding with the same demands and the same strategies we have been using to fight the system for the past two years. History repeats itself. The same things we have been demanding during these pandemic years are the same things CTU has been demanding for the past decade.
What we need right now is community. When I say this, I know each of you reading these words understands me in a different way. That does not mean that we do not have community right now, with each other. It does not mean that we have not been building community or loving each other. But it takes everyone, not just to fight these systems, but to simply exist and be reminded there is joy and love in this city. Even in this city, full of institutions that have never loved us.
When it rains or snows, the natural water cycle doesn’t have the choice to leave any part of the cycle out. Evaporation, Condensation, Precipitation. We need community at that level.
That’s not to say that organizing itself has a specific recipe, only to say: fight, fight, fight doesn’t mean that we are going to win. Because we have been fighting. This is the same fight our ancestors were fighting. What I mean here is, the same way that I am learning to be patient with the adults with whom I am in community, those adults need to be patient with themselves and each other.
That is how we move forward. That does not mean that we have answers on returning back to school. But we can do what we know how to do. Breathe. Love. Take care of each other. Breathe again. And know that it is okay to not have answers right now.
It is also time that we collectively stop looking for answers from these institutions. Create our own answers. Build our systems of care. For right now we breathe, even if it is with a KN95 mask. Right now, we breathe, even if we don’t want to. Because breathing means you are existing. And existing, to them, is a threat.
Latest posts by Catlyn Savado (see all)
- Whether We’re in School or Remote, We Must Breathe, Love and Care for Each Other - January 3, 2022
- We Hurt, We Struggle, Some Die, And We Just Keep Going. - November 12, 2021
- In CPS, Classrooms Are Cotton Fields And Students Are Exploited - October 12, 2021