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  • Writer's pictureNajah Amatullah

From the Co-Author to All Teachers

KOCO interview 2/1/2020:

Me being interviewed about my new kids book Opal’s Greenwood Oasis. Watch or read for context before beginning my blog:

This message is for 📚teachers📚 who somehow magically have the capacity to read something:

This message will reference 🩺 mental health and some 📿 woo-woo stuff.

If you don’t know me: this is year 8. English Language Arts at 5 schools, 2 districts, 4 grades (7th, 10th, 11th, 12th), AVID elective, creative writing. I have a degree in English literature with other concentrations in print journalism, mass communications, creative writing, education and Spanish.

I am IN AWE, and also a bit jealous, of any of you, teachers, who are still trying, still caring. As we approach our pandemic anniversary and as the largest districts in the state are back face-to-face after months of being cautious.

My therapist tells me that I don’t give myself space to truly feel feelings. This school year has been 😭😢😩 for me as I’m sure it’s been for each of you, teachers. I have a bad habit of stacking my grief up in a back corner and pretending like it’ll magically disappear. Spoiler: it won’t.

As I was speaking to this kindly broadcast journalist about Opal, when she referenced teaching history...

I was honestly shocked by my impetus. The ancestors (maaaaaaany of mine are teachers and administrators) must have also been listening.

Is it a travesty that so many haven’t heard about Opal’s Greenwood or about the massacre that destroyed it (or the grit that rebuilt it BIGGER or the redlining and “urban renewal” that destroyed it the second time)? Of course. That’s terrible.

But let me be the first person to acknowledge that no one 👏🏾 has ever 👏🏾 made a teacher’s job easier (except parents and students and each other🖤). So I, Najah, the book’s co-author, am not mad at you. Use what you can from here. Hit me up for more and I’ll help as I’m able. High school teachers, let’s compare notes and ideas.

Before you spend your own money on this book, ask your friends/followers to buy for you. (Who wants to buy a small stash - or be ready to - so I have them on hand to give away when teachers ask?) These salaries are still abysmal. PPE and COVID precautions are still abysmal. Standardized testing is still the biggest detractor from learning. And racism is still alive and well and the school to prison pipeline is still very active and a nine-year Black girl got tased? Pepper sprayed? (I honestly can’t even look up the story) this week and time don’t stop.

And I’m livid. But not at you, teachers.

And I’m scared.

And I feel helpless.

Don’t let that red-lip smile fool you. The show also must go on.

Here’s just one of my contributions. It ain’t enough, but it’s a start.

Pray *OUR* strength for the continued journey.

Go be excellent.

“In the Black Future, there’s a place so dangerously absurd...”

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