Roberto Germán 0:00
Welcome to Our Classroom. In this space, we talk about education, which is inclusive of but not limited to what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host, Robert Germán. And Our Classroom is officially in session. In this episode of Our Classroom, Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul invites Lorena Germán to join her in one of the RedClayEd Community Conversations. As we transition from summer fun and flexibility, Sonja challenges the audience to consider the following themes, nourishment, rejuvenation, preparation, and anticipation. Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul is the adapter of the number one New York Times bestseller “Stamped (For Kids)”. She is an educator, author, founder of Red Clay Educators, and co-founder of the Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy. Lorena Germán is the co-founder and academic director at Multicultural Classroom. She leads professional development for teachers and creates teacher materials with, and for leading literacy organizations. She is also the author of “Texture Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices” and “The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook.”
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 1:38
Hopefully, you will share some of the ways that you are thinking about those themes, the themes of nourishment, rejuvenation, preparation, and anticipation. So the key questions to think about include, you know, how are we feeding ourselves physically, spiritually, emotionally? How are we restoring ourselves with new ideas and ways of moving through the world? How are we readying ourselves for all that we hope to accomplish both personally and professionally? And how are we energizing ourselves about the future and the possibilities ahead? So Lorena, are you with us? Hey, Hey.
Lorena Germán 2:23
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 2:24
I'm so happy I got to see you for the first time in person since 2019, 2 weeks ago.
Lorena Germán 2:32
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 2:32
Lorena Germán 2:33
I feel like it's already been so long.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 2:34
And I feel the same way. 'Cause seeing you honestly felt like breathing. Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, our sister, she was on a couple of weeks ago and she said, find you some friends that help you to breathe. And although our time was brief, girl, although it was brief that we were together, it felt like breathing.
Lorena Germán 2:58
Yeah, it was good. It was definitely an exhale. It was definitely a I'm holding this let me put it down and look at it with you, you know? That felt good.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 3:06
Yeah. So what's good, sis? What else is helping you to breathe these days?
Lorena Germán 3:13
Mmh. What's helping me breathe? You know what, I've been getting back to reading for me, you know. Like we do so much reading for others for work to create this, to create materials, to think about how people can use this book, which is great. Like I love doing that. And I have been yearning. I've been yearning for many, many months to just be like, wait, let me just feed me. Right? Like, let me just read something that is for me. And so there was a book that I had on my desk that I had started. I mean, on my night table I had started it and then I paused it because you know, the enemy time just wasn't letting me. And finally, I forced myself to take a minute one night and be like, let me just get back in this book 'cause the way I am is like, if I'm in it, that's it I'm in it. I'm gonna find the moments. I'm gonna find the way 'cause I'm in it. But if I'm not, you know, if I'm just like, oh yeah, I'll get to it. If I'm not really-- like if the book hasn't captured me just yet, I'm probably not gonna fall back into it is the truth. And so boy did I fall in it. My goodness. So good. Fed me.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 4:30
What are you reading?
Lorena Germán 4:31
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 4:32
The Three Mothers.
Lorena Germán 4:33
By Anna Malaika Tubbs. “How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation.” So good. Like I can't stop talking about it. Every time I see someone they're like what you're doing? I'm like reading this book right here, this one. I've finished it and it's so good. It's also like I haven't read a book from cover to cover for myself for a long time.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 5:07
Loreta Germán 5:08
And this one girl, even the authors know. Okay. I read all the pieces. All the pieces.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 5:14
Oh my goodness.
Loreta Germán 5:17
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 5:17
I know. I was talking with a few of us that, you know, all of our friends that we know together that, and I know other people experience this, that during the pandemic, it was hard to read. It was hard to fall into a book and to escape between the pages because everything felt so heavy. Because it was. And so I'm super excited when people are like, oh my gosh, I'm reading again. I found this book. I made this connection. So Lorena, what's something you're taking away from with this book? Like something that's sticking with you. You know, how have you been influenced by this?
Lorena Germán 5:56
Yeah. I mean, I think-- God, I don't even know how to answer that 'cause I'm still processing but I really appreciate the way that she contextualized historically, socially, politically, economically in every possible way. She contextualize what it is to me, a woman, a black woman, a mother, right? So like a black woman, mother in this country. So I'm just letting that sit with me. And there were things that I knew and then there were so many things I just had not considered and just stuff I didn't know. Like I didn't know about these women. I hadn't thought about their-- I didn't know their particular impact on their sons. And that's her whole point. Is that we know about these three men, right? We know so much about them. And we are told in all of their cases, a little bit about their fathers, but we are not told about their mothers. We're not told about their mothers at all. One of the things that's sitting with me, you know, as English teachers, some of us will teach the one section of Malcolm X's autobiography, right? Where he's learning all about the words and memorizes the dictionary and all that stuff. And what we don't teach is that when he was a child, it was his mother who taught him that. She is the one that taught him all the words. And she gave him the practice of sitting with the dictionary. And every day those kids came home from school she was like, what did they teach you? And she ran her own school right there. And was like, this is the truth about that. She did her own unschooling and relearning every day after school. And so everything that Malcolm X became later, if you think about it, right? Like what he did comes from his mother. And yes, he gets a clear passion from his father and an understanding of injustice. And he equally, equally got it from his mother, you know? And so, I'm just like still blown away from some of those details. Girl, I was on that plane, I think back from San Antonio. No, no, Seattle. I was in Seattle last week. I'm on that plane, and my tears are flowing when we get to the chapter of their deaths because I-- like, obviously, we all knew that was coming. Right. Like I knew it was coming. The boys are gonna die. And so it's not even about the death but this author just-- I didn't know it was possible to make me like see these deaths as new again. I mean, I just-- it was just I was just dumbstruck. I love-- I personally love Malcolm X.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 9:09
Yeah. We often think about the loss of these three incredible men from the perspective of the loss for humanity, right? But we don't often think about the loss to their mother, right?
Lorena Germán 9:25
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 9:26
And we don't do. You know, and that's part of the work we need to do in order to really think about the full humanity of everyone, right? Thinking about their mothers and what that loss was like is not even work that I've done. And I have to tell you as the mother of-- as the black mother of an adult daughter, I have been thinking a lot Lorena about the invisibility of our work. You know, the lack of acknowledgment of our work. And I'm not talking about from the perspective of the children. I just mean the totality of that in the world. And I'm thinking also about Jason Reynolds' podcast, My Mother Made Me, and the way he honors his mother now so that she can receive her flowers so that the world understands what she did. As his mother, it's so powerful and beautiful. So I just finished that podcast and now I have to get this book. I told you in San Antonio that it's on my list for sure. It's gonna be one of the first things I'm reading when I go on vacation.
Lorena Germán 10:43
Yeah. No, I think you'll appreciate it.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 10:44
It's gonna take me places.
Lorena Germán 10:48
I think you'll appreciate it. I learned so much. And so, you know, it was just so powerful. I'm still letting it teach me, you know?
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 10:58
Yeah. Wow. That's amazing. Well, I am looking forward to vacation soon so I can just breathe by the ocean and read. 'Cause, you know, I've just been working all summer and all the things happening all summer. I think, you know, one of the ways to lean into these themes, I've been asking everyone to think about is-- for me is to work on some projects, some that I can't quite discuss yet. But it's giving me life because at the core for all of these projects, Lorena, are the things that you and I are passionate about. Justice, affirmation, liberation, right? It's at the core for all of this. So I'm super excited about the possibilities ahead. And one project that I wanna talk about is The Black Creator series. This will be a Red Clay Ed candle with collaboration. It's coming back. Season three is coming back. We have a new platform. There'll be more to share about that soon. But Lorena, you're always preparing, right? When I think about that theme preparation, you are always thinking about, you know, readying yourself for what's ahead. Are there any things personally or professionally that you're excited about that you wanna shout out before we head out already? And one of those things, the mural project that we talked about, this is the book that I wanted to give you and I'm still gonna get it out to you.
Lorena Germán 12:30
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 12:31
Yeah. I gotta get this out to you 'cause of your many projects, that is one that I can't wait for you to develop and then share with all of us. Yeah.
Lorena Germán 12:41
I don't know what it is. I don't know what it's gonna be. Okay. I just know that right now I am so enamored and I don't know what the other word is. Like, I'm just captivated by murals right now. And there is something-- I feel like there's a treasure there that I have to uncover. So, you know, wherever I go, Sonja experienced it, wherever I go and I see a couple of murals, I'm like, boom, I'm coming back. And it is what it is. I'm going. I'm gonna go see these. And so in San Antonio, when we were there—
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 13:17
Well, you haven't lived. Yeah. You have not lived. I was just gonna say to everyone, you have not lived until you've stood on the street corner in 105 degrees with Lorena analyzing mural across the street. I mean, you haven't lived.
Lorena Germán 13:34
It was definitely 105. Absolutely. So there's that kinda ruin in my mind and my heart. And then another thing I'm getting more and more excited about. It's not my own personal project, but it's a Multicultural Classroom Project. And it's for Roberto’s poetry book, the "Why" poetry book that will hopefully be coming out in the next couple months. And I'm excited for a couple of reasons. One, you know, there really is a little bit of a gap in why trade. And you know, like I can name off some of them. And so I just feel like this is going to be such a powerful contribution. Obviously, I'm seeing it as a wife, as an adult, but I'm also like, wow, there's so much opportunity in classrooms with this. And so I'm very excited as I'm watching it evolve and watching poems really solidify. I'm more excited about seeing that product out there.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 14:38
That's exciting. Oh my goodness. I'm so proud of you. I'm proud of him. I'm so excited for both of you and for all of us to continue to bask in your brilliance.
Lorena Germán 14:51
I know you can't say a lot, but what's next for you?
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 14:53
Oh. Yeah, yeah. So I'm thinking about-- I'll just say this, if you know, you know that we've gone through some things this summer. And what I am trying to do is think about the lessons learned from that and channel all of my energy no longer into, you know, chaos and that and put it elsewhere to make something beautiful and powerful for all of us. So that's what I can say right now. My goal is to create for us. For us.
Lorena Germán 15:35
And we need it. We need it.
Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul 15:37
Roberto Germán 15:38
As always your engagement in Our Classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show, and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race bias, education and society go to multiculturalclassroom.com. Peace and love from your host, Roberto Germán.