Here we are again

Rebecca Berlin Field
3 min readMay 26, 2022

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

-Langston Hughes, 1938

The last two nights, I’ve read Harry Potter…again (The Prisoner of Azkaban, to be exact). It’s what I do when I am completely, utterly, overwhelmed and the Xanax doesn’t quite resolve things. For my own peace, I retreat into a world where there are magical powers…and time turners. It usually helps me fall asleep. Not last night- my mind was spinning. The time turner has become a reality…our babies were murdered in school again. Same weapon. Same spells. Same horror. Teachers are being martyred…again while their students are collected in a morgue. Families are destroyed, as every parent everywhere tries to bury the deep, wild panic that threatens to overwhelm them. We are here. Once again. Small children, unrecognizable but for DNA analysis, have been sacrificed so that rich people can eat blood and gold.

And this time we are already exhausted. We are already drowning in grief. We are weak from 2 years of pandemic isolation, loss and pain. We have been worn down by war, parenting during constant crisis, shortages…loneliness. We have endured insurrection, an unstable democracy, and the impending loss of the freedom over our bodies. We have worried as more and more Americans follow false gods and start leaning in to fascism. We have witnessed more and more gun violence and police brutality, ever-increasing racism and antisemitism. We are smaller than we were.

We are here again. But older. And sadder. And angrier. And so many more children are dead.

And those wizards- in our world we call them public school educators…we are even smaller. Teachers are being vilified for teaching the truth. We are being screamed at and threatened by parents who want to control what all children learn. We spend our days with kids who have little self-control, no social skills, and a whole lot of sadness and anger. Teachers have always had secondary trauma from dealing with the pain of our students, but now we are holding our own trauma and still absorbing our students’ needs. And we are angry too. High stakes testing continues even though our kids can barely stay awake through our classes. We feel lost and unsupported and it so very hard to find joy in our schools.

And then again we are heroes without out consent. Again. Again hiding little bodies behind ours’ and dying from the bullets from the same exact kind of gun. Politicians surround us, attacking with vitriol when we join unions or dare to speak up for our students. Yet politicians run from us to avoid having to witness the bullets tear apart our chests or shrink away from examining our brains splattered on classroom walls. This kind of torture, being treated as pariahs and saviors at the same time, is destroying teachers’ mental and physical health. We are leaving. We are quitting. We are saving ourselves. We choose to remain whole for our own babies. We love our students and we love to teach, but we can’t stay.

And as we go, remember how essential we are.

When teachers have left their classrooms, when all the wizards have quit making magic,

who will stand in front of your children when the next assault rifle is aimed at their heads?

More words from “Kids Who Die” by Langston Hughes

Listen, kids who die —
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come —
You are sure yourselves that it is coming —
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky —
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.

May their memories be a blessing.