Why simply living as a black man in America is exhausting.

I’m so tired. You really don’t know what I mean.

I live in a neighborhood filled with beautiful homes, but I don't feel safe admiring the architecture for too long or too obviously because eventually someone will think I’m casing the property.

I keep my hands clasped behind my back when I’m browsing in stores so employees might feel less inclined to follow me quite as closely.


I slow down when I’m walking behind someone or cross the street if it’s at night because nothing good happens when my fellow pedestrians start with the nervous over-the-shoulder glances.

I make sure to wear Columbia University gear if I have to travel, whether I’m feeling some school pride or not. I do my best not to get any bigger, not just to be healthy or feel good, but because the only thing scarier than a black man is a large black man. I know this.

Me and my parents at my 2012 graduation. Photo courtesy of Khalil Romain.

I smile and laugh, even when I’m miserable or angry, because these pinchable cheeks might save me some headaches down the line. I never raise my voice, and I never ever lose my temper in public — even when I’d be in the right to do so. I know how to manufacture joy and charm as a defense mechanism and survival tool.

I do all of this extra work, these constant calculations in the back of my head, fully aware that it’s bullshit.

It’s all bullshit because respectability politics have and always will be bullshit. If the police can gun down a 12-year-old boy in under two seconds of arriving on the scene, of course I don’t stand a chance. Body cameras and smartphone evidence still don’t get an indictment, much less a conviction, so of course what I say, how I dress, or what I do doesn’t matter. Who I am doesn’t matter. It never will, not until my life does.

I do all of these little things for the placebo effect — to feel like I have some control over what does or does not happen to me when I walk out the door. It’s not real.

In every single direct interaction I have had with a police officer, their weapon has been unholstered. I know for a fact that those conversations often begin with a gun pointed in your face. I know they’re not supposed to, and for the majority of Americans, they don’t. I know that knowing that doesn’t matter. This is the way it works.

So I’m tired. I’m tired because the nonstop mental math, which runs in the background like a computer program every single waking moment of the day, is exhausting.

The futility of turning every single one those precautions into a habit is fucking exhausting. Watching people die again and again and again for being black in public is exhausting.

Knowing that one day it will be you or the people you love — that it will be someone else’s loved ones until then — is exhausting. Knowing there will still be people who respond with "but all lives..." is exhausting.

Figuring out how to be a functional adult is hard enough. Against all odds, I have managed to carve out a teeny tiny slice of life for myself in which I’m actually happy.

Friends and me in Brazil. Photo courtesy of Khalil Romain.

I have, miraculously, made a home with a person I love with a depth and sincerity I never imagined I’d be so lucky as to share. I’m increasingly certain my cat, Langston, is getting fluffier every day. I have incredible friends and family that I adore. It would be an unimaginable privilege to give my whole heart to living these parts of my life and not always chain a portion of my mind to simply trying to survive.

I am very, very tired.

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A new Harriet Tubman statue sculpted by Emmy and Academy award-winner Wesley Wofford has been revealed, and its symbolism is moving to say the least.

Harriet Tubman was the best known "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses that helped thousands of enslaved black Americans make their way to freedom in the north in the early-to-mid 1800s. Tubman herself escaped slavery in 1849, then kept returning to the Underground Railroad, risking her life to help lead others to freedom. She worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and after the war dedicated her life to helping formerly enslaved people try to escape poverty.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Kenneth Goldsmith / Twitter

The Hillary Clinton email scandal was a major right-wing talking point during the 2016 election that aimed to create an air of suspicion around the candidate.

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The controversy surrounded Clinton's use of a private email account in which over 30,000 emails were sent during her time as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. An FBI interrogation found there were 110 confidential emails sent from her private account.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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