The possibility of hope
ADOFO A. MUHAMMAD | 4/23/2020, midnight
Education is of critical importance now more than ever. For vulnerable populations that have historically included Black and Brown scholars this reality has taken on a new meaning. As the world is engulfed with the current pandemic of the coronavirus, public schools in America and throughout the world have scrambled to assemble virtual learning platforms that attempt to provide the scholars they service with some semblance of normalcy. Teachers have scrambled to learn new digital platforms; the New York City Department of Education has distributed thousands of devices. Social distancing and a gripping anxiety and fear can be felt in the air. It’s an aura that embraces travelers who leave their homes for essential products, it’s a fear that essential workers live with as they seek to do their part to save not only themselves, but the members of our community who are afflicted with the scourge of the virus. The unknown, hidden killer that seems to cascade on the elders, the sick and, yes, the young and healthy as well.
With so much death, pain and agony that is being endured, one tends to think to themselves that we are finally descending into the last days that our grandparents once told us about. We have arrived at man’s moment of truth and the judgment that the book of revelations warned us about is omnipresent around us. It’s easy to wonder and let the mind drift toward the notions of doom, it’s easy to simply give up and say to yourself, why go on and continue to fight that which you cannot see and touch. Yet deep within us, lies an undeniable and unyielding spirit to push forward even in the face of uncertainty, even in the face of what can seem like unsurmountable odds.
I see the essence of resiliency and struggle every day as I rise from the depths of my sleep and push on for another opportunity to fight the good fight. Every day I turn on my computer and start my day, with a morning meditation that one of my co-principals has developed as a self-help mechanism to insure the health and wellness of her colleagues. Every day my comrades and I meet to just hear each other’s voice and help to inspire each other. More often than not the morning meeting is shattered by the news of another death. Shattered by the reality that we will no longer be able to physically touch a parent of our own or hear the voices of the parents of the students that we serve.
Nevertheless, we push on. We greet our scholars through the virtual world, trying to usher in a tone of confidence and asking how their day is. Asking about their family members. Listening for the coping mechanisms that they themselves have created as they contend with this new normal. My scholars are bold, fearless and undaunted by the new normal. Yet every now and then you can hear the doubt in their voices. As educators we know that our duty and responsibilities transcend the classroom––they always have, and they always will. In the new normal we must collectively hold each other up, inspire each other and above all protect each other as the medical professionals and scientists battle the scourge of the silent death.
Perhaps the spirit of collective consciousness will propel our nation to become the mosaic that it was intended to be. Perhaps in the face of life and death, there will emerge a new sense of responsibility and empathy toward your fellow brother, toward your fellow sister. Perhaps the racism, sexism, classicism, homophobia and xenophobia will finally meet its end. Is it wishful thinking? Or could it be a new Reconstruction era that allows Americans to re-set. It allows us to re-build ourselves from the ashes of death to hope and possibilities of a life where there is a renewed sense of engagement in the possibility to create a new world out of an old one.
But the responsibility is ours.
Adofo A. Muhammad serves as the principal of the Bedford Academy High School.