There is a saying that the best apology is changed behavior. I think there is likely quite a bit of truth in there, while a genuine apology is also pretty darn good, too.
One of my personal commitments is to be a lifelong learner. I think I always imagined that I was but in recent years and especially in the last year I have been an on-purpose learner. As we learn we become more efficient, or more conscious, overall changed in some way, theoretically, for the better. I say, theoretically, because I am sure there is some caveat to learning that may be deleterious but that is not my point at the moment.
The reason I show up today on our blog or in your inbox, for those of you who subscribe, is to tell you I have learned a tremendous amount in the last several months. Some of it, OK most of it, has been difficult – painful even. It has also been necessary. In June of last year, we took a hiatus from the blog because we said we were listening and learning in the wake of George Floyd’s death. I took it seriously and I continue to take it very seriously. I follow far more Black educators (always pay those from who you learn) than I ever have before. I have read many many books and I am changing. I won’t say I am changed because that implies there is an end and there is not.
If I am going to keep moving forward living into my values, as Susan David suggests, then we will need to do and say, sometimes, things that are highly uncomfortable. She says that “courage is not the absence of fear but fear walking.” Here I am walking.
Which brings me to my point. I found lots of ways to rationalize leaving it be, not saying anything at all. I told myself on some days, only 10 people read our blog. While that is true, those 10 people bother to give us their time at least once a week. I want to be honest and respectful. In the past, we have given a fair amount of play to the work and books of Rachel Hollis. Over the course of the last 12 months, our interest in her has faded dramatically for a number of reasons. In fact, I stopped following her social media feeds long ago. But her behavior in the last week got my attention, through other sources, and has been weighing on me. She posted a video and in it compares herself to Harriett Tubman, speaks in a demeaning way about her housekeeper, and essentially shames others for not being successful because they are not willing to work as hard as she does.
I am not going to spend time breaking it down line by line because if you are interested, there are far more capable and qualified educators out there to provide that. What I am going to say is that while we will not be deleting our blog posts from the past with regard to Rachel Hollis, making it look like we never followed her, we are going to link to this blog and show that we have changed our minds. We have grown. We have learned and these are not ideas, concepts or rhetoric we support in any way. I want to be clear in these times that it would be easy to say that we are attempting to “cancel” her, not that we have anywhere near that kind of power or influence. But what I am really hoping is that after the large pushback she received is that she would take accountability for how harmful and toxic some of the things she has said, especially lately, are. Changed behavior is the best apology, as the saying goes, for a reason.
I cannot, obviously, force that from her or anyone else. But what we can do is hold ourselves accountable for the role, while maybe small, we’ve played in promoting her and following her. If she is considered a social media influencer, this is no longer the influence we want on ourselves and certainly not on you.
Let’s be clear and honest. This is not an attempt at grandstanding or shining a light on how moral we are. This is called: when you see something, say something. It’s also simply being a decent human being. These are not matters, as far as I am concerned, where you can agree to disagree, or let it ride. Matters of humanity, dignity, decency and weaponizing your privilege are not things that are open to agreeing to disagree for us. We all make mistakes, take missteps, to be sure, but what you do next matters.
With that, we thank you for your time.
Lowi & G