It was a pandemic


People were dying alone

Backpacking in the Wallowas, 2016

January 27th, 2017

To My Beloved Community,

Trapped: 1980

When I was tiny, my parents went to a wine-tasting (or something) and left me in the care of a young man who was somehow related to our across-the-street neighbors. At some point in the evening, he took me into my bedroom, told me to lay down on my back and take off my underwear. He sat on top of me, pinning me to the bed. He assaulted me while using his big hands to force me to watch. I did. …

Reader, I wore a mask the whole time.

I promise: I never strayed from my family bubble.

God be my witness: I washed these hands until they were pink and raw.

But this horny mind of mine

she got into bed —

Sometimes it was the backseat of a used car

Sometimes in an alley

Sometimes the broom closet —

with everything.

I have friends who believe in God or god or spirits or breath or the sacred or the ancestors

(or some combination).

They read daily scripture, chant blessings and mantras, sing praises and prayers,

over and over.

And for most of my life I have thought: not me.

“I’m not a believer,” I believed.

But this morning, when I told my child, “I love you”

for, perhaps, the 25,000th time in the last 12 years,

I felt it, the pulsing truth of the love, anew, different and the same as yesterday.

I felt it, a prayer in a holy text…

When my child was born, my big brother leaned over the bassinet in the NICU and said, “It’s so wild, Urs. I mean, genetically, they’re 50 percent Joel and 50 percent you, but already — already! — they’re 100 percent Augie B.”

Augie B. being 100% themself

A class, too, is both unmistakably constitutive of its members and an entirely new being, with an identity all its own.

5th period is not interchangeable with 7th period nor 8th period, even though they’re all juniors and all taking the same U.S. history course.

5th period puts up a front of being a rule-following, obedient group of…

A White Settler Educator Cuts Up Her Textbook

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

In 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 13 directing the Oregon Department of Education to create K-12 Native American Curriculum for inclusion in Oregon public schools and provide professional development to educators.

An ABCs for SB13 by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

A is for Appropriate

To take or use without permission, or understanding, or partnership.

To pretendian.

To do White harm, carelessly, often with

dancing, laughter, and alcohol.

B is for Binding

An obligation that cannot be broken,

as in a treaty.

Something that connects two or more parts together,

you and I, ours and yours…

I am a U.S. history teacher in the United States. I struggle mightily with my use — in the course of my teaching — of collective pronouns: “our country” or “our nation” or “our laws.” The unity suggested by these collective pronouns is challenged by the facts of daily life. We live in segregated neighborhoods, attend segregated schools, live under a political and economic regime in which obscene levels of gender and racial inequality are on persistent and grotesque display. We do not have anything remotely matching the egalitarian premise of a collective pronoun like “our.” So what does that…


When I was a high school sophomore, I was required to take a semester of civics. The teacher was Mr. Brooks. He was white, middle-aged, with the lean body of a distance runner and the closely shorn hair of a right-wing lawmaker. He loved James Madison. He loved the U.S. Constitution. He loved our republic. He loved America.

He walked up and down the rows of our classroom, talking. His talk was punctuated with occasional snarky asides about our misbehavior, always using formal address, which somehow amplified his mockery of us.

“The First Amendment, however, is not absolute, especially…

Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

I teach high school in Oregon.

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