I Don’t Feel Like Performing by Calvin Eaton

Smiling Sphere Balloon in the middle of grey crowd

it’s all a performance

and I don’t feel like performing today

The following message was originally sent to students in my Exploring African American Food Culture Through Food: 1619 to Present at St. John Fisher College. It encapsulates my overall feelings over the past few days.

Hello Students,

I am sending this note as I grapple with many mixed emotions. This week has been emotionally taxing for me to say the least; only adding to a backlog of months of uncertainty, grief, death, and killing of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement. It is not my style to pretend to be unaffected by it all and despite the many tools that I’ve accumulated over the years to say that I am unaffected by yet another local instance of inhumane police sanctioned violence would be disingenuous at best and a lie at worst. This week particularly yesterday I have not felt much like performing. Although we are all conditioned that the show much go on no matter what, in this particular moment for me the performance of it all in the face of deep emotion and feeling seems more egregious and disingenuous than ever before. Added to all this is the burden of internalized guilt of having any of these feelings and emotions in the first place.

One thing I’ve learned and practiced more during this the last six months of this pandemic is the importance to make space for and sit with uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, and emotions. All feelings are valid and none of us, not even myself are inherently bad or wrong to not feel like being bothered or not want to carry on in the performance of life when so much around us is crumbling, corrupt and very wrong right before our eyes.

All this said, despite my initial feeling I intend to carry forward with our class tonight.  It is important for me to meet this moment and these feeling head on with honesty and authenticity instead of pretending they don’t exist.

What you can expect is a discussion and format that will look very different from the lesson plan that I originally planned. I am not exactly sure what I will say or for how long we will engage but what I can say is that I have to meet this moment with truth, honesty and transparency. Our community and our world is in turmoil and we don’t need to perform through it all without acknowledging our feelings and emotions in the moment.

I look forward to sharing more and seeing you all online via Zoom at 6:15 PM

Professor E.

If you need support in processing complex feelings and emotions do not hesitate to contact the following resources:

sit with all the emotions
it’s ok to not be okay
it’s ok to tell people you’re not ok
you don’t need to pretend to be happy all the time
especially not during global pandemic
and wanton violence on a daily basis
it’s ok to not be okay

About Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a virtual non-profit organization and antiracist education brand that promotes justice for all. The organization encourages individuals to broaden their horizons and learn more about multidisciplinary issues and topics that impact the world. 

Still thinking about how you can support antiracism education? 

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1) Join our growing membership base at patreon.com/540wmain
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  1. Visit our blog for over 700 social justice focused posts from our Founding Director, contributing writer Chris Thompson, and various guest writers.
  2. Morethanisms podcast a series created by Calvin Eaton that unpacks social and cultural issues that impact black and non-black millennials of color.
  3. Discuss books relating to antiracism in our Unpacking Book Discussion Series. Join at facebook.com/groups/540unpacking
  4. Check out our on-demand class library to learn about structural racism, environmental justice, and more.

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Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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