My students need thirty copies of "Don't Let me Be Lonely" by Claudia Rankine.
If you only pay attention to national headlines, West Baltimore is home to crime, poverty, and not much else. But anyone living or working in this neighborhood knows that Baltimore is also home to supportive families, strong knit communities, and the most resilient students in the nation.
At my sustainability-focused school, our students are critical thinkers, creative writers, and architects.
They are future doctors, farmers, and bio-medical engineers. Through neighborhood partnerships, they are already serving their communities as medical interns, student journalists, and caretakers for the elderly. I am lucky enough to teach creative writing to sixty of these amazing student-leaders.
In my creative writing classroom, we have the opportunity to read diverse work from contemporary poets. While I always prioritize writers of color in my poetry curriculum, the month of February is an especially important time to bring modern, working African-American writers into the classroom. By exposing my students to present-day writers, I want to show them that Black History is not something that exists in the past but something that is being made every single day.
Claudia Rankine's "Don't Let me Be Lonely" is a perfect text to study during Black History Month because it encapsulates the kind of writing that I want my students to learn from.
Open and honest, uplifting and devastating, Rankine brings images and poetry together to paint a portrait of American life that is still relevant almost 15 years after the book's initial publication.
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