I don’t know how to start this post. I don’t know the words I’m looking for. Words are my greatest tool in this life, and yet they still often fail me. I want to talk about trama. Until my last breath, I think I will always feel like a teacher in my heart. Being human means that there is trama in your life to some capacity. There is trama in my life that fewer people know about than the fingers on one hand. We all get to choose how we express that. Some of us spend whole lives in the midst of trama. And some of us carry around things from long ago. Some are lucky enough to learn the tools to cope with trauma. Some are not.
I can’t speak to a lot of things in this world. But I can speak to trama as someone who has experienced it in great horrific depths. I can speak to it as a teacher who has had many children (they are all children until they’re not) who have trama.
One of the great tragedies in this world is that children have to learn to cope with threats to their education. They all know what a “lockdown” is. I didn’t grow up with that terminology. I knew what a bomb threat was, and I knew what it was like to attend a school that had a bomb go off in it. But the term “lockdown” was wholly unknown terminology to me.
When I was a teacher at predominantly white school, the children didn’t take lockdown seriously. Even faced with a man and a loaded weapon near campus, they went about their day, unfazed. These are broad brushstrokes. There were always students who were upset or took it seriously. But primarily, I had to beg for their silence. After I would tell the stories of my own experiences and they would take the act of a drill more seriously moving forward. In those moments when they didn’t, I saw red.
When I worked as a teacher in a predominantly black community, the children were silent during a lockdown. The one or two who wanted to mouth off and take it as a joke were quickly threatened by the others. They all knew, scilence was the key to survival. Several struggled with muffled sobs. More than half were visibly reliving past trauma in their head. I’m not about to pretend to know each of their stories. But I know what it looks like when someone doesn’t feel safe. When someone is faced with trauma, they react in different but similar ways. Some withdraw into themselves, some lash out, cry, scream, even break things.
I’ve been watching unheard trauma in my city. My heart is hurting.
Black lives matter.