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“You can’t do this alone”: La Junta Collective on “calling in” and collective healing

Jean and Alec talk to members of South Central LA’s La Junta Collective about how to point out when colleagues say something harmful, who should be doing that work, and how that helps kids to know they are safe in school.

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Transcript:

German (00:00):

I’m a formerly undocumented Brown person. Who’s been wrongfully incarcerated, sitting in front of a classroom teaching. There is absolutely nothing I can do to hide the political statement within that. Not a thing. And I don’t try to,

 

Alec (00:22):

This is high tech High Tech High Unboxed, I’m Alec Patton

 

Jean (00:25):

And I’m Jean Catubay, I teach seventh grade humanities at High Tech Middle Chula Vista.

 

Alec (00:29):

This is the second episode in our series on facilitating tough conversations about important stuff in class. We’re talking about the kinds of conversations that when they happen at family dinners, people might stop speaking to each other. Today, We’re talking to Rebecca Rodriguez, German Gallardo, and Pedro Gomez from La Junta collective in South Central LA. And they have a fourth member, Carlitos Cortez, but he couldn’t make it. I talked to Rebecca and German back in October, and I have a link to that episode in the show notes. At that time, we talked about their plan to create a school that’s a place where an entire community comes together to heal from their collective trauma while at the same time, learning to critically analyze the structures that have caused that trauma. So I knew I had to talk to them again for this series. Here’s who everybody is and what they do.

 

German (01:08):

German Gallardo, I’m a member of La Junta in South central Los Angeles. I currently teach 12th grade social science and that’s government, economics, and gender studies, and currently transitioning into the role of Dean of culture at Wallace Annenberg high school in South Central. And I’ve been teaching for 12 years.

 

Pedro (01:28):

My name is Pedro Gomez, an associate professional clinical counselor.

 

Rebecca (01:33):

Hi everyone, Rebecca Rodriguez, I have been in the classroom now for eight years and two years ago, I helped found and open a middle school in South Central LA and I am now transitioning to be the director of student services.

 

Jean (01:49):

So I started off the conversation by just asking where we get started, because I have some concerns around introducing harm where it wasn’t present before. And just to warn everyone, Rebecca’s connection kind of went in and out in the interview, so some bits are a little tough to hear.

I’m Filipino, and so as a non-black prison of color, I find myself in a very weird place right now of like, “What spaces should I take up in terms of like having these conversations in a, like, what right do I have to like insert myself?” And so as an educator, it then adds another layer of complexity to that where, you know, you want to talk about these things with the kids. You want to talk about these things with your colleagues, but you also are thinking about, well, how much trauma are you actually introducing into your environmen, that maybe wasn’t t here already? And so being mindful about that,

 

Rebecca (02:40):

I’ve been reflecting a lot about this question of where do we start, or our responsibility to our students, and I think time and time again, I land in the same place of like the work of anti-racism of undoing our internalized racism, it starts with us, and it has to start with the adults before going straight to the resources that exist and kind of flooding them into our classrooms without doing our own work.

 

Alec (03:15):

What does that work look like to you?

 

Rebecca (03:19):

Yeah. As educators, we need to understand the history of American education because it is based in oppressive measures and white supremacy and eradicating cultures that were not white. And so I think that is a great place to start.

 

German (03:39):

Yeah. I think building off that, like looking at what the adults have to do is really creating a space where it’s okay to have those conversations. And it’s safe to have those conversations, creating a space where it’s safe for folks to be able to call each other in. We’re really good as a, as a culture at calling out and being punitive about things, right. And that in and of itself is like a policing thing. And as an abolitionist and as a person who wants to build an abolitionist school, it’s not necessarily about punishment, it’s about calling IN and being able to build a community that’s strong enough to have those conversations. So creating a safety in the space where we can talk about these things that are going to be messy, that are going to be painful, that are going to be shocking for some folks. And I think that’s important. I think it’s also important to really talk about the inherent racism white supremacy, the patriarchal, misogynistic nature of our country and the systems inherent in it and how they reproduce those things. It’s really difficult to have those conversations, but if we’re not having the amongst each other, we can’t effectively have them with our children, our students, as a whole community. Or you can have very beautiful, productive, healing conversations in certain spaces, but it won’t be a community. And that’s difficult because then you’ll find, I find that sometimes it’ll hurt students that they feel a space, or in my experience, several spaces in a school where they’ll feel like they’re comfortable enough, safe enough to have these conversations with real emotion. And there’ll be other spaces where they cannot have those conversations, where they have to internalize this idea of having to be palatable to folks who don’t understand you – palatable to white folks. And so our students understand how to make that switch at an early age. And so they will, they’ll be in spaces where they will change the way they speak about it. Maybe they won’t sound as angry. Maybe they won’t talk about their families. They’ll leave a little bit off and it won’t be as healing as it could be. But that is like really understanding how to be in those difficult conversations that comes from having that as a staff first.

 

Pedro (05:47):

Could I just add onto that? It takes time, you know, students don’t just come out trusting you. It’s the opposite. They already come in distrusting the system that has been historically oppressing them and marginalizing them. So it takes an extra effort to build that relationship and it’s through the relationship building that these conversations can be held.

 

Jean (06:10):

I’m wondering, hearing all of you talk, what is the role of healing practices and where did they originate from and how does that connect to your teaching practice/pedagogy?

 

German (06:20):

I practice things that my grandparents taught me and that elders that I work with have taught me that are primarily Lakota. I’ve also gotten a lot of knowledge, a lot of healing practices from folks who practice Ifa, from folks who are West African. And so I practice that under the guidance of elders and with the permission of elders. And that’s really important for people to understand as far as what it is in my pedagogy. It is central to my pedagogy in so many different ways. My classroom has a type of altar that we place up there to honor ancestors because in the places where I have worked, a lot of folks have lost people at very young ages. So it’s a way for us to remember that we’re there with our ancestors. We practice talking circles, which is a way for us to build relationship, but it’s also like constant conversations that we have. And it’s the ability for me to be able to have those conversations that are only marginally academic. A lot of times it turns into things that are just emotional: sharing with each other, being in a circle, talking about who we are, what we do, what we believe in, like one of the first projects we do is them understanding who they are and their own history and why they’re there. And it builds beyond that. So like when something happens like this at the end of the year, we already have something where we can talk about things first, emotionally, and really care for each other and then meet, really move into becoming more active in solutions. And ideally it’s like being able to take that and offering that to the families. Speaking about trauma, having these kinds of situations has allowed me to have the opportunities where students will disclose trauma in the classroom. We can offer them like the standard, “what we have to do legally” to help them do that. But then there’s also conversations that we can have as a community with mothers, with people from the community that are activists and that are practitioners that can come in and help each individual group and the community heal together. And it really starts looking more like a hub than it does just a single classroom and a single person. That becomes magnified when we can do that as a whole school community. And not just one person has to carry that because that is, I’ve tried several times and it’s always an impossible task that ends up with you being burnt out. And it works so much better when you have a community of people.

 

Jean (08:45):

Yeah. Thank you for that. Pedro, if you wanted to weigh in on that, how do healing practices show up in your teaching pedagogy?

 

Pedro (08:55):

When trauma happens, it affects the individual at all levels. That’s what makes it a trauma. You know, it’s an existential experience. A person starts questioning their own beliefs, their relationship with the higher power. So that relationship needs to be restored, you know, and that’s how we do it. When we create these spaces, we allow ourselves to go there and have that relationship back and have that reconciliation with our higher power with our ancestors. You know what I mean? Me and German have been like soul brothers. We’ve been on a journey together. We will continue being on this journey and just following mostly Lakota traditions. You know, to really address trauma it needs to be addressed through ritual and your connection to, to your own beliefs and to the interconnectedness of ourselves and our connection with all of our relatives, right. With the world, with nature, the animals, and it’s through there, we will find the healing.

 

German (09:57):

Another thing I want to add is like, if you really want to have that collective healing, if you really want to create a space where the students and the families can heal, you as a member of that community, must first see yourself as a member of that community and not an outsider. All too often in schools, and this is what perpetuates, in my opinion, some of that trauma, is that folks will see themselves as outside of that community and then somehow better. So it’s understanding that you are part of that community in some way. You may have more privilege because of socioeconomic class, because of gender, because of sexual orientation, because of race, but you are a member of that community. You must take that on. Another thing that has to happen is first you have to practice too. We cannot create healing spaces unless us, ourselves are in the work of healing our own traumas. And I think that’s the scary part for a lot of adults is that we want to talk about it. We want to like say, “Oh yeah, I want to do this work for these kids,” but we don’t do this work for ourselves. And I think that’s, that’s like the big harm that happens and why it’s so tough. If you’re not doing that work, then you cannot do that work as a community. I can give myself as an example: I was a very angry, angry, young person, and if I hadn’t done a lot of work to heal my own pain, my own traumas and found a community to help me hold that, I wouldn’t be able to teach my students how to heal because I’d still be angry. And that’s not to say that the anger isn’t there some times, but it just wouldn’t – I wouldn’t know how to process that because I hadn’t done that work. And it’s only in doing that work that you can actually create that in reality.

 

Alec (11:44):

I’ve got a question that I think connects to this and also goes with earlier in the conversation. You were talking about, like the distinction between calling and calling out. I can give like a lot of examples of like calling out, but I was wondering if there’s – and I don’t want you to, like, I don’t want you to be calling out somebody by being like, “This is a time this person screwed up and I called them in.” But like, I’m curious what that calling in looks like. And I’m kind of thinking of staff-to-staff here.

 

German (12:11):

I’m always thinking of things kind of as an abolitionist, right? And looking at like decreasing the prison-industrial complex and policing in all its forms. And so often when we think about like, what policing is, we neglect that piece of policing that it becomes when we police ourselves. When we take on the traits of the carceral state within our own actions with one another. “Calling Out” has its place, there’s going to be times when I look at a tweet, for example, or look at something where I’m just like, “Nah, I don’t want to invest the time into calling somebody in.” And it does take a considerable amount of emotional labor to be able to do that. So the calling in for me happens, like for example, within a school culture. I can name a bunch of times where I’ve been called in. I can name a bunch of times where Rebecca and Pedro have called me in for things that I have done or said that were out of line, which could be a very sincere and loving “You screwed up bad. And we need to talk about it now.” And it’s very much the past relationship that was allowing me to hear this person and say, “Okay, cool. What did I do?” And then like having this like real conversation to like “what you said, bothered me this way, and please don’t say that.” And that’s really important. Like I can remember in another organization, I made a joke and the joke was completely out of line. The person came up to me on the side and was like, “Yo, you know, that joke you told was really out of line and it hurt. And I’ll tell you why it hurt.” And it wasn’t like an anger. It wasn’t like “I can’t talk to you anymore.” It was done with so much love and framed in a way that I was a valuable person within that community. And they wanted to let me know what I’d done to hurt somebody. And then the conversation flow from there. Times where I’ve called folks in happened just recently, considering everything that’s been happening, where a member of my teaching community was talking disparagingly about folks who were protesting and then started so-called “rioting.” And he started saying a whole bunch of really unsavory things. We were able to talk to that person and say, “Yo, what you’re saying is hurtful because of this,” as opposed to saying like, “You’re excluded, you messed up, and there’s no way to fix it” because that’s not, when you’re talking about a school, that’s not what we want to have our students do. Our students, because they are part of this system, will say things that are horribly out of line. So it’s being able to create an environment within ourselves where we can say, “Yo, what you said was wrong. What you said was hurtful. And this is why.” And that doesn’t fall on any particular person. It falls on the community to be able to do that.

 

Alec (14:56):

Yeah. I think one of the things that’s challenging right now is that a lot of this can feel like etiquette, particularly I think, to a white person, like the disparaging term “politically, correct”, where it’s like, “that’s not the ‘correct’ thing.” It’s like, no, dude, don’t do it ’cause it’s “correct”, do it ’cause you don’t want to hurt people. Which I think is an important distinction that among white people certainly I think gets lost.

 

German (15:18):

And this is where it gets really dicey, especially in a community of educators. It is, and I’ll speak, honestly, it is exhausting to continually have to have this conversation with white colleagues. It’s exhausting, it’s exhausting. And, and you know what, let’s be real, like, people who also internalize the racism. It is so exhausting to have that conversation consistently. That’s why it can’t be done with, with one person, right. It takes a group to be able to do that. And it’s really like at its core is back what we were talking about, is understanding the work that has to be done. Could I have had those conversations in my twenties? No, because I would have been really angry and said, “You’re just racist” and you know, expletives and “I don’t ever want to talk to you again”. And in getting to a point where I realized that that at the base of that anger was a whole lot of pain and hurt. It takes me being able to love and respect you to be able to make myself vulnerable enough to do that. And I honestly can not do that for everyone. But if I’m in a teaching position and you’re teaching students, then I feel like I have to do that because my students can’t. And I have faith that people in my community will also recognize and be able to carry me when I just don’t have the bandwidth to be able to have that conversation. Cause it’s so hard to like make yourself vulnerable and say, “Yo, what you’re saying is fundamentally hurtful because of this,” because then you’re reliving the trauma. So like I said before, whatever privilege you hold, it’s time to use that, to have those kinds of conversations. If you are a straight cis male and somebody saying something hella homophobic or transphobic, then it’s your job to call in that person, and it shouldn’t be the person who’s gender nonconforming or queer to do that. Not to speak for the person, but to be willing to step in and say like, “You’re kind of out of line. Can we like talk about this in a different way?”

 

Rebecca (17:16):

Or to even question it, which I think as I’m reflecting, is such a rare occurrence.

 

Alec (17:22):

So I’m, I’m curious about that. ‘Cause I think that could also go really wrong. ‘Cause Like worrying about how to use your privilege to intervene is obviously a great problem to have. But I also think one of the things that I find is that assuming that this is your moment to like be the superhero and the savior also does not help the situation. If you can imagine that playing out, like somebody stepping in, what that could look like

 

Rebecca (17:55):

You have to trust your gut, that discomfort, right in that inner narrative that you were having in dialogue with yourself is very much what many people deal with when walking into other spaces. And so I think walking into that and embracing it and making that decision of like, “you know what, this may go wrong.” But if something is telling you that something should be said or asked, if the intention is a good one and not like, “Hey, I’m going to save the moment,” right? I think it is a good mistake to potentially have and continue to embrace it as a learning experience.

 

Alec (18:34):

That’s a great point.

 

German (18:36):

And to add to that, I think like there is a whole lot of privilege in just being able to have that thought. If I am in a space where I can actually have that thought and I’m not lost in the pain of what is being said about me, then I know I’m carrying a ton of privilege and that’s important to understand. I think it’s also important to understand that you’re nobody’s savior and you don’t speak for anybody. It’s speaking from what you’re feeling in that moment and centering the voices of others. Right? So we have a high population of kids who are either gender nonconforming or queer students of color in our schools because they’re perceived as safer than other schools for those children. And I have on various occasions, said things to the entire staff. I’m a straight CIS male, instead of saying like, “Oh, what you’re saying is offensive to all queer people, queer people of color, gender nonconforming people,” what I say is, “you know, I’m uncomfortable with that statement and I don’t feel like it’s right”. And it can be just as simple as that because the discomfort I may have felt of saying, “am I overstepping, am I saying things that I’m not supposed to say, will I get any backlash?” I’m saying from my position of privilege where I don’t even have to think about the horrible things that they’re speaking of, that they’ve dealt with, that they felt their entire lives, right? Because in that particular situation, the risk to me as a straight cis male to stand up and say, “I’m uncomfortable with this homophobic conversation that’s happening” is uncomparable to the discomfort that somebody who may be in the closet, that somebody who may be out and doesn’t – like a person who does not have that privilege of being a straight CIS male is feeling in that moment, in that room right now, it doesn’t even compare. And if I stay quiet for fear that I may have said something wrong, for fear that I may be looked at as bad, I’m thinking about the wrong thing. I’m thinking about my comfort as opposed to the comfort of somebody who’s more vulnerable than I am in that moment. And so like, I never say like, “Yo, this is wrong because of blah, blah, blah.” I usually just say, “I feel uncomfortable with that” because you’d be surprised like, even among teachers, how often somebody says some really sexist stuff or really inappropriate stuff, I’ll be the first one to lift my hand and be like, “Yo, I don’t feel comfortable with that joke. I think that’s just wrong.” And it could be that. And if somebody questions it, like, “This is why I think it’s wrong. “You Know what I mean? It’s just me.

 

Alec (21:17):

Yeah.

 

German (21:18):

Because the risks that I take are far less, ’cause realistically, like I could be seen as a strong, powerful male, where if a woman of color would say that they would be called a “bitch” or they would be called somebody who has an “attitude”, I have less to risk. So I’m going to say it. It’s also as adults really having those conversations in class also comes down to how do we listen? And are we willing to hear dissent? Very often, we’re caught up in this idea of teaching as us being the people who understand and know and have all that knowledge. And also people who have hierarchical power. And so people end up being really defensive when a student challenges or disagrees with an idea we have, instead of having the opportunity to push that idea and really come to a conversation or where students see that. Having been a gender studies teacher, there are students who say some really foul things that are really damaging and certain students who say some racist things or some prejudiced things, and it’s really foul. And at that point as a teacher, you have the decision to make, to be punitive and be repressive, and just say, “you don’t say that in this class” or use that as an opportunity to have that conversation, unpack where it comes from, and really go into a deep dive of what creates those ideas and how harmful they may be. And if you haven’t done that work, if you haven’t unpacked that yourself, you don’t know how to ask those questions. You don’t know how to push that inquiry. And it becomes really uncomfortable.

 

Alec (22:59):

Rebecca said something about this that the recording didn’t capture, which is that if as a teacher, you aren’t comfortable with where a discussion’s going in class, you can just stop the conversation and say, “we’ll pick this up again tomorrow.” And then you’ve got 24 hours to figure out how to handle it. And when she said that, I was like, “why didn’t anyone tell me I was allowed to do that before?” It just makes so much sense. And it would have avoided so much pain for me and for my students

 

Jean (23:23):

That got us into the subject of mistakes that teachers make. This is what La Junta had to say about it.

 

German (23:30):

I cannot tell you how many times I have made a soul crushing mistake in a classroom and been able to go to somebody and say, “I messed up. How do I undo this?” Or how do I improve what I did? And then come back and, and, and really building this culture of looking at my students and saying, “Yo, I made a mistake in how I handled this. And this is how I’m going to repair that mistake.” That is huge. I’m lucky enough to have Pedro and Rebecca who have given me crazy amounts of advice or correction, or “Dude, you messed up” that that has been formidable in my teaching.

 

Pedro (24:09):

And it’s also like the allowing yourself to make a mistake. We’re conditioned to not make mistakes, to feel bad about ourselves, to feel shame about making mistakes, but education is learning and learning, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re trying to figure out something new. Our elders are always telling us whenever we’re in sacred space is that, you know, this is the space where we can make those mistakes. And when I’ve been in circles with ms. Rodriguez and with German, that’s always been the case. It’s like, this is the space where we can make those mistakes.

 

Jean (24:47):

Yeah. I, I I’m, I’m just thinking back to how do we share that with our students in a way that is honest, but again, also not unpacking it on them. And I don’t really have like a followup question, but just, yeah. That’s just something that I’m really, really wrestling with right now.

 

German (25:07):

You know what helped me in that same journey was like having a community of people.

 

Jean (25:13):

Yeah

 

German (25:13):

And you said something that I think is at the root of what we believe as a school and as a collective that we try to implement. Right? And that’s like, all too often in our – and this important has its place – but all too often, we talk about “self care” and it’s always about what are you doing to care for yourself? And if you cannot care for yourself, you’re somehow a failure going back to what Pedro was talking about as always like getting blamed for things. And sometimes we just don’t have the ability to care for ourselves because we’re tired. Because it’s hard to do these things. And it’s hard to be aware and have these constant conversations with people. It just it’s exhausting. And it’s being able to have a community of people. It’s being able to have practices that you can go with the group and they can help you hold it. Like I’m very fortunate. La Jjunta is not just like us trying to start a school, but it is very much a group of people that I love and care for that I know will hold me no matter what. And it’s been various occasions where I can come and say, “I don’t want to talk to people. I cannot deal with anything. I can’t even deal with life right now.” And I know that those people will love me, hold me and take care of me in whatever way I need at that moment. And I feel that. Like, if I need to cry, there’ll be there to cry with me. If I need to like, just be angry and curse for no particular reason, other than I’m tired of dealing with this stuff, they’ll be there to hold me. They’ll be there to crack a joke. They’ll care for me. And pick me back up and get me ready to fight again. And that’s huge because although we want to be honest with our kids, we shouldn’t really be pushing that on our kids. We need to have our own communities where we can have those conversations. So we can then facilitate and hold for our students and let them know that those are real. “Yes, You’re right. You feel that. I feel that all the time.” If you don’t have those outlets, then it turns on the kids. Like if you don’t have those outlets, that’s when people turn into like, “Oh but these kids are horrible.” Or “I can’t believe that kid didn’t listen to me.” Or going into the teacher’s lounge and, and hearing them talk about like, “Oh yeah, that kid’s horrible.” As opposed to being like, “Yo, I’m just tired. ‘Cause This is soul crushing work. And it’s a lot of emotional labor and I need to heal,” and everything else, it turns into like “All these horrible kids” or “All their parents don’t know what to do.” And we try to like point at things that are not the system that is trying to burn us out.

 

Rebecca (27:55):

The difference between “Man, I tried a new lesson today and I completely failed. Can I show you all what I did and see if I can do it different?” Or “Man, the kids aren’t listening today, did they listen to you? I don’t know. What’s in the water?” Both of those comments are talking about the same class.

 

German (28:15):

Yeah. And look, Rebecca, I don’t think Rebecca has had a bad year as a teacher. ‘Cause I met her, I think her second or third year into teaching. And I was like, “Damn, she’s incredible.” And I, that whole time I’ve been able to go to Rebecca and say, “Yo, I tried this lesson and it was garbage. Can you look at it for me?” And Rebecca was really honest about like, “Oh, this is why it didn’t work.” And then almost every time she’s like dead on. And it’s like, “Okay, cool. My bad, you’re right. What was I thinking? Let me change this.” And it’s cool to have people like that too. Cause youRebecca you’re annoyingly good.

 

Jean (28:56):

So basically what you’re telling me is I need Rebecca to be with me.

 

German (29:02):

Yo, you need a group of people. If you’re doing it all alone, yo, this is what leads to burnout. This is why teachers will only last three years. You have hot shot teachers that say, “Yo, I’m going to be a anti-racist I want to be anti homophobic. I’m going to be anti patriarchal. I’m going to do all these wonderful things.” And then two, three years later, you run into them. “What are you doing?” “I’m somewhere else like. Oh yeah, I decided to leave teaching because of whatever.” ‘Cause those are the people that try to do that alone. Like I’m sure if you ask Rebecca how many times I’ve gone to her crying. Ask Pedro how many times gone to him crying, and they know this more than I think anybody else does: They have literally saved my life on various occasions and like, yo that’s, that’s so necessary. ‘Cause I wouldn’t be able to fight as much as I do, organize in as many spaces, if I didn’t have them, if I didn’t have that space where I could just cry or I could be held or, and this is just me and my form of healing, where I can just talk random nonsense and crack jokes about things that make no sense or aren’t important at all with them for a couple of minutes, and then feel like, “okay, cool. I have this. I can move on now.” And also like, it’s okay to not have to engage with people. Yo, if you’re consistently calling in or calling out people that is exhausting. Sometimes yo, I just don’t even wanna deal with you. Like Rebecca said, “I’m not going to even spend time on that.” So long story short, I love you my collective!

 

Rebecca (30:42):

Man. I can’t tell you how many times I would call them all outraged about who knows what? And the first thing I would ask is like, “Did you eat?” Ooh. And it would piss me off , and I’d be like “I’m not calling you ’cause of my food I’m calling you because this and this happened!” and they’d be like, “All right, cool. But did you eat though.” But I think that those jokes and those moments of laughing grounded in your basal human needsis what keeps us energized because we know that the work that we do is hard, it is often intellectualized, and we don’t always have to live in that space. We can still be happy and have joy and cancel things and say no to things. That isn’t going to make us any less of a fighter.

 

Pedro (31:51):

That’s what community does, right? We take care of each other. And it’s times like that when Rebecca sends a text in the morning and it’s like, “What do you need Miss?” And she’s like, you know, “I’m not going to go into it because I got to get through the day” and we’re like, “Okay, cool. We’re here if you need us, and here’s a text hug, I’ll send a prayer out to you for everything to go well. It’s about the community because you cannot do it alone, you will not do it alone.

 

Rebecca (32:23):

The emotional labor I make these men have to go through is my little chip at the patriarchy.

 

German (32:35):

But yo, like, what we just did for each other is what needs to happen in the school for our students. It’s really us doing this work as adults so we know how to do that for our youth and we can help them and guide them to do that for their community. And it’s those kinds of things, that kind of like deep work that will allow us to be able to have these really difficult conversations and not create more trauma is knowing that you’re safe, knowing that you’ll be held, knowing that you can break down, have emotional outbursts, be angry, run out of the classroom and then be accepted the next day and be like, “Are you okay? Thank you for coming back, man.” knowing that they won’t be kicked out, knowing that they can always come back. I think that’s the important thing is building that and it does, like we said at the beginning, start with the adults being able to do that. ‘Cause If they’re strong and they have that, then the kids can have that. You can do that alone, but it’s so much more difficult when you’re alone.

 

Jean (33:43):

I appreciate all of the naming that, because like I said, as a new teacher, the number one thing that we’re taught is you are modeling the behaviors that you want your students to adopt. And so whether it be more academic or just how you carry yourself, right? And so carrying that over into like, not only my individual actions, but how, how are we engaging with each other as colleagues, as staff? And so I thank you for sharing that. Like I, yeah, it’s making my spirit feel a lot better right now.

 

German (34:14):

Yo, find your people. You’re not alone anymore. This is the reality of it, right? Like, that sounds all touchy feely, but this is very much me. Stop laughing, Rebecca .

 

German (34:30):

Know that this is true. And I, and I hope you do understand that, that this is at the core what is true: if you feel alone in doing this work, like nobody is there doing that with you, know that that is not true. Somewhere in South Central Los Angeles, you’re going to have people that are doing that same work with you. And even though we may not have seen each other physically or that we haven’t been in the same room together, we are doing that same work and you are not alone. You’re in a community of educators who are doing the same thing, who are doing this work and who know how exhausting this work is. How at times it’s soul crushing, yet we still show up. Yet we will always show up because we know how important it is. Know that you’re not alone. That even though you’re in a different part of the world, we’re under the same sky and we’re fighting together with the same heart. You’re never going to be alone because we’ll always be there.

 

Jean (35:35):

Oh Lord, thank you. Thank you all for your, your time, your energy. Thank you so much. Thank you.

 

And that’s our show You’ve been listening to Rebecca Rodriguez, German Gallardo, and Pedro Gomez from the La Junta Collective, interviewed by Alec Patton and me, Jean Catubay. The show notes have links to the stuff we talked about as well as the link to our other interview. The music you hear right now is our theme music: “Agassi (Into the Spider’s Web) by Brother Herschel. Thanks for listening.

 

 

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