The Morning After, an open letter to my students

Dear students, past and present,

This morning I dropped my daughter off at her public elementary school in Brooklyn. There were many tearful goodbyes at the classroom door, tears from parents and children of all colors, cultures, and family structures. Hugs were given freely by her teachers to parents and children alike. I overheard one of her teachers say to a child, as he held him in a warm embrace, “We’re still a team. We’ve got your back. We just have to keep on supporting each other, like we do.”

I want to write to let you know that we are still a team, and I’ve got your back. You’re librarians, you have a critical job to do, and I’m here to support you in any way I can.

It’s been a tough going during this election season. It’s not gonna get easier. There are two things I ask you to foreground this week: 1) Self-care, so you can carry on. 2) Showing up. Really showing up.

In my classes, you’ve no doubt heard me say that everyone is expert in their own lives. You are expert in your own life; your students are expert in theirs. We can only build understanding in dialogue around our life experiences. Honor your truth in your teaching, and in your personal practices. Do things that restore you. Talk to friends, to co-workers, talk to me. And talk to your students, too. Show up to share.  And, show up to listen. Your students have things to say, questions to ask, learning to do, and they need you now.

One of my heroes, Paulo Freire, said that any act that prevents someone from inquiry is an act of violence. We are the first line of defense against that violence. Help your students ask the hard questions and look for answers. Make the library a place that is safe for just the kind of inquiry that those who do violence to our students want to shut down.

The power of librarianship is sharing power with everyone. I know you can do it. I’m here to help.

Sending you all my love and my most sincere gratitude for all that you do. Please be in touch for any reason.

Sincerely yours,

Jessica