From race and sexuality to class and religion and everything in between, it can be really challenging to push yourself to have these difficult, mature, respectful conversations. For many, these topics are heavy, emotionally charged, and deeply personal. Of course it makes sense to steer clear of such conversations, and quite frankly, it’s the easy thing to do. Who wants to offend others? Who wants to be judged based on their political and/or moral beliefs? Who wants to second guess everything they were taught and, in turn, the very people who imparted such knowledge? No one ever wants to be that guy, but think about all the good that’s come from folks who were courageous enough to stand up and spark lively conversations about challenging topics: Angela Davis. Tim Wise. Jane Adams. Jimmy Carter. Marian Wright Edelman. Cesar Chavez. Helen Keller. Nelson Mandela. Gloria Steinem. Howard Zinn. And the list of fearless folks goes on and on and on. Again, the work they did and conversations they started were overwhelmingly difficult, and yet they were also—and more importantly—life changing. They leaned into the discomfort, and so should you!
Nigerian girls missing, Ebola ravaging West African countries, ISIS terrorizing innocent civilians, Bubonic plague spreading throughout Madagascar, and hundreds of thousands of people losing the battle against social justice every. single. day. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and I oftentimes feel angry, sad, confused, powerless, and just plain tired. Tired of the fighting. Tired of the hatred. Tired of the pain. Tired of the judgment. Tired of it all. When will it end? When will love finally drive out hate? When will darkness give way to light? When will we know justice and peace? When will we be the change we want to see in the world?
Midterm grades are coming out soon and, if I’m finally being honest with myself, I haven’t done well at all. In fact, that’s pretty much an understatement. This is my first semester at a very intense school, and the level of work and effort required of us has been really difficult, way harder than my previous school. The issue is my parents have no idea! I haven’t been completely truthful with them about my progress and experience in school, and when they find out…let’s just say it won’t be pretty. Help! What should I do?
Nervous in New Hampshire
As a boarding school teacher, I’m required to wear different hats for various occasions and in various spaces. For instance, in the dorm, I can be a parental figure tucking them in and wishing them a goodnight’s sleep; in the classroom, I am their “faithful guide” helping them see beyond their text and make solid connections; and on the field, I am their biggest cheerleader coaching them through victorious wins and tough losses. There are a number of other roles I’m bound to play at a moment’s notice, and I constantly have to be on my toes ready to tackle whatever comes next—and this weekend would be no exception.
On a recent, restless, insomnia-filled late night, I randomly stumbled upon some old news out of Texas initially reported by the Huffington Post back in November of 2013. Richardson High School hired Christian motivational speaker and co-author of Christian dating books, Justin Lookadoo, to inspire and motivate its students. While Lookadoo did, in fact, inspire his captivated audience, I’m sure their response wasn’t what he imagined. You see, many of Lookadoo’s dating tips stem from a close-minded, misogynistic viewpoint. His books promote archaic conservative ideas like “datable girls know that guys need to be needed. A Datable girl isn’t Miss Independent” or “God made guys as leaders. Datable girls get that and let him do guy things, get a door, open a ketchup bottle. They relax and let guys be guys. Which means they don’t ask him out!!!” or my personal favorite, “Datable girls know how to shut up.”