A [Love] Letter to You, to Us

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Kiese Laymon, Mychal Denzel Smith, Darnell Moore, reading letters from “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” in my class tonight.

Dear Youth, Media & Educational Justice Fam,

I’m not sure where to begin, tonight rendered me speechless.

After leaving class, I walked to the subway in a daze and as soon as I sat down on the train, I started writing, trying to parse out just what exactly I was coming away with:

Notions of letter writing,

Of love,

Of love letters, and that “love” can mean different things to different people in different temporalities…

…except when, as Kiese reminds us, it’s a kind of love “that necessitates deception”…that’s not love. . .that ain’t love no matter what.

I agree.

Of audience, audience(s),

and of creating new and different audiences if the current ones you’re faced with just aren’t cutting it.

Of moving parts, human machines, working to re-humanize those who have been unjustly misaligned with the ‘cogs.’

Of weight. Honesty.

Honestly, every week I see and feel our group transforming and evolving into a community. And it’s powerful.

It’s fucking powerful.

Wanna know how I know? I know it every time I walk out of that room feeling this sense of warped and complicated resilience–knowing I’ve just gone through a set of experiences where I’ve been reaffirmed, challenged, informed by moments and silences, pushed to uncomfortable places and pushed to do uncomfortable things (like acting in skits).

You know how else I know? I know it when my classmates (my peers, the family that is slowly growing its roots and sprouting its leaves) choose to open themselves to us, to what’s happening in their minds and their hearts in that moment. To be vulnerable; to share, but not share-too-much, to still keep aspects private and sacred; to trip over words and stumble through silences, while we all sit and listen and respect those mumbles and silences.

Thank you.

This is knowledge production at its realist, its messiest. And I dig it. I’m moved by it. I’m moved by each and every one of you in this class. I feel so fucking lucky to be a part of this class and to have been present tonight.

To Kiese, Mychal, and Darnell, thank you for sharing your letters with the world…but thank you more for reading them to us. That is something that will stay with me for a long time.

To Lalitha, I’m so grateful for your work, your commitments, your questions upon questions. For making the creation of these spaces seem so incredibly easy and ‘normal.’ The experiences that I’ve had in your classes are like nothing else I’ve experienced in my entire schooling career and I sincerely mean that. You embody the change you want to see and it’s remarkable. Thank you for having the vision for this class. Thank you for your advisement and mentoring.

To Yolanda, Tara, Joe, Kristine, and Melissa, you add such incredibly rich pedagogical and human aspects (based on your identities, experiences, and personal and professional passions) to this course. Thank you for bringing Kiese, Mychal and Darnell to our class tonight. Thank you, Teaching Team, for your purpose, your knowledge-building, the space(s) you create for us to know and to un-know. And to un-know. You all seriously have such a place in my heart.

Yours in gratitude and love,

Emily