It’s a strange thing, living through a dramatic moment in history, and then returning to normal routines as if nothing really happened, the next. I didn’t see my students the day after Election Day, so yesterday was the strange return-to-business-as-not-usual day. I could tell the moment I walked into State Hall (or onto campus at all, for that matter), that there was a floating tension I’d have to fight hard to soothe in the classroom as well. Random comments, handmade fliers on the walls, armed police at the doors. Not business as usual. At all. Despite what you may have heard, teaching on this Detroit campus typically is quite peaceful and safe.
Yesterday was conference/panel presentations day, and I wanted them to be rewarded for their hard work. I began class with an offhand comment, something like “If we had spare time and a lot of coffee .. we could have a long talk about the past two days.” With sad smiles and nods, we all settled into an important workday that was weeks in the making.
With about 15 minutes left in the evening class, a protest march streamed through the hallways, and outside past our classroom windows. Several students stood up, as if they wanted to join (or fight?). One woman screamed toward the windows, “It’s too late! It’s too late!” We sat in stunned quiet then, except for chants of “Trump says Jim Crow, we say hell no …” … which gradually faded as the march hit Cass Avenue, and turned toward downtown. I saw tears in many students’ eyes. Didn’t bother fighting back my own. Haven’t had a classroom moment quite like that in the past 15 years – since 9-12-11.
And what’s my conclusion? Is there one, really?
For now. The end.