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OP-Ed: Reflections of an Oakland Unified School District teacher on strike – Day 6


“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that? I’m really sleepy.”

One of the solidarity school volunteers was asking me a question about where to find some supplies, or what room to take the kids to, I think? I couldn’t process the information because I was multitasking while sleepy: stopping kids from roaming the hallways, mediating disagreements, settling first grader fights and attempting to answer this question. God bless our youngest students whose routines are so out of whack that some are in a perpetual state of melting down.

Day 6 is nothing like Day 1. I’m super tired. Fun fact: I was diagnosed with narcolepsy three years ago. It’s by the grace of God that I’m still functioning by the end of the day. I have to say, I honestly didn’t think we would still be on strike. We are currently entering our second week.

“Um, ‘scuse me. Mrs. Seitu? He kicked me in my private part.”

That got my immediate attention.

“He what? Sweetie, who kicked you?” The first grade boy pointed out his classmate, another first grade boy. I approached him, bent down to his level and asked, “Did you kick him in his private parts?” He solemnly nodded yes. He made no attempt to lie. While I appreciated that, I still had no idea what prompted the kicking.

“Why did you kick him?”

“He did like this in my face.” He made a symbol with both of his hands and held them up for me to see.

“So you kicked him because he put his hands in your face?”

“I was trying to kick him in the leg.”

“Ok. You do not have the right to put your hands and feet on anyone. Do you understand me?” He nodded yes and I took both boys to the Eat and Greet room to sit down and chill out. Chill, there’s no chill here. My sister Kehinde and I, the lead organizers for this site, get pulled in several different directions all day long. In the eight hours at the solidarity school, I think I sat down for a total of 30 minutes all day.

When I came home, I searched my email and WhatsApp messages for updates, any updates, on the status of the bargaining process. I saw pictures and videos from today’s citywide action located in downtown Oakland. I smiled watching a Facebook live video of teachers, students and community members chanting in the state building, “One! We are the teachers! Two! A little bit louder! Three! We want justice for our students!”

I smiled watching a Facebook live video of teachers, students and community members chanting in the state building, “One! We are the teachers! Two! A little bit louder! Three! We want justice for our students!”

It feels a little isolating working the solidarity school every day. I do not know what is happening on the picket lines or at the citywide actions. I do know, however, that I am providing a service that enables parents to continue standing in solidarity with us. That also makes me smile, and I can’t lie. Seeing all of the children’s faces every morning, them greeting me with a hug and a smile, that makes me smile too.

Read the remaining reflections in the San Francisco Bay View.

#OaklandUnifiedSchoolDistrict

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