Learning lunch creates space for education and reflection

Students discuss the unrest and protest in Minneapolis during an all-inclusive lunch


Lucy Nelson

The school’s choir sang in solidarity and respect for the protestors in the nearby Fourth Precinct

Chapel Puckett, Managing Editor

“For those of us who live at the shoreline / standing upon the constant edges of decision / crucial and alone,” Marie Michael recited. The learning lunch began with a recitation of Audre Lorde’s poem “A Litany for Survival.” Lorde’s poem encapsulates the emotional events in recent weeks regarding the tension between black residents of Minneapolis and the police.

Scott Flemming then began to speak. He explained the path that he intended the lunch to take. We began reading an article out loud from the Star Tribune about the shooting of Jamar Clark and the history of tensions in the area. Flemming emphasized some ideas that were established throughout the article that we could pay attention to – for example, the relations between individual experiences and social systems and how that pertains to the tensions in North Minneapolis.

Flemming also emphasized the idea about the multitude of different “relationships” that an individual has with the world around them. We have relationships with people, with institutions, with our neighborhood, and even with information, and these relationships frame how we understand the word around us, he said.

Flemming then related these events back to Blake. Many Blake students, alumni and parents are participating in the demonstrations at the Fourth Precinct. He also pointed out that there are people who attended Blake, or whose children are attending Blake, who are in positions of authority – for example, in government, like Keith Ellison, Congressional representative for Minnesota’s Fifth District, which includes Minneapolis, and whose son Jeremiah Ellison painted the mural on the third floor and has been involved in the protests. There are so many people connected to Blake that are also connected to these recent events, and he emphasized the importance of recognizing that. 

Jeremiah Ellison, Blake alumn, peacefully protests as police officers aim a gun at him. He was not shot during these demonstrations.
Photo published in the Star Tribune, photo credit: Renee Jones Schneider
Jeremiah Ellison, Blake alum, protests at the 4th Precinct on Sunday, November 18 2015.

Flemming then opened the discussion up to the students and faculty who participated in the demonstrations to share about their experiences. One faculty member spoke about the importance of intersectionality at these demonstrations and in society. They said that these demonstrations were representative of a community with different kinds of people, not just one in-group.

Another student spoke about the importance of being an ally. That, even though it isn’t an ally’s job to share their experiences, it is their job to be supportive and listen to others’ experiences. They talked about the importance of listening to what others have to say.

Lastly, another faculty member brought up our proximity to North Minneapolis. The Fourth Precinct is just about two miles away, and we at Blake are incredibly close to where this is happening. These events are occurring where we are too.

The lunch provided an overview about what has been happening in Minneapolis as well as the recent events surrounding Clark’s death. Flemming and other administrators provided a safe place to share and reflect about the recent events, especially since they’re so close to home.

Discussion was also facilitated in classes throughout the day, specifically focusing in on Clark, which also allowed for students to share their thoughts and reflect.

Almost a year after the events in Ferguson, MO, the learning lunch as well as the classroom discussions acknowledged the emotions surrounding these events, allowed for students to share if they wanted to, and, overall, created a safer space for everyone to talk about what is going on just two miles from our school.