Teaching and Justice

An Invitation for Mid-Term Reflection

by Gina Merys, Acting Director, Reinert Center

The middle of the term is often a time when we take a collective deep breath; we (faculty, students, and staff) have been racing through our days with never enough time, always looking toward the next item to achieve, to complete, to check off our list. At mid-term, however, we have the opportunity to pause for a moment and contemplate what has happened thus far, and look for ways to realign ourselves and our courses for the next half of the semester.

In honor of this mid-term opportunity for reflection, I offer this well-known poem by Langston Hughes as an invitation to consider: who we are as teachers; how our identities shape every part of our courses; what we are asking of our students, implicitly and explicitly; how their identities shape their understanding of and responses to our assignments; and how we take into account the parts of the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm (context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation) as it relates to our students and their learning.


Theme for English B

Langston Hughes


The instructor said,

Go home and write

a page tonight.

And let that page come out of you—

Then, it will be true.


I wonder if it’s that simple?

I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.

I went to school there, then Durham, then here

to this college on the hill above Harlem.

I am the only colored student in my class.

The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,

though a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,

Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come the the Y,

the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator

up to my room, sit down, and write this page:


It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me

at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what

I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:

hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.

(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.

I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.

I like a pipe for a Christmas present,

or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.

I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like

the same things other folks like wo are other races.

So will my page be colored that I write?


Being me, it will not be white.

But it will be

a part of you, instructor.

You are white—

yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.

That’s American.

Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.

Nor do I often want to be a part of you.

But we are, that’s true!

As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—

although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.


This is my page for English B.


From, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Knopf and Vintage Books, 1995.