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  • Writer's pictureProfessor Leão Preto

Tedious Taxes, Tumultuous Teaching, and Tragic Tasers


Living on a Caribbean island is beautiful, but I experience stress like anyone else.

This week I felt a tension in my neck while organizing my finances for taxes, completing a virtual teaching project, and trying to make sense of confusion between a taser and a gun. Reviewing my annual spending habits alongside profits and losses is not fun. Using the Articulate software suite to build a course from scratch is enjoyable, but it stretches my patience to create multiple triggers that breathe life into the content. Mistakes happen, but the killing of Daunte Wright by a veteran police officer because she pulled her black gun instead of the bright yellow taser from the holster is suspect.

My self-care practices of writing, exercising, praying, and meditating have pulled me through this week’s challenges. I am grateful for journaling habits, capoeira passions, and spiritual practices that correct my internal steering toward roads of despair.

We must take care of ourselves. Self-care is critical but difficult to adhere to when you're going through a moment. Somehow, we have to find a way to tap into our abilities to persevere through life's challenges.

Tedious Taxes

How do you feel about tax season? The extended deadline for submission is May 17th, but you have to begin preparing your documents now.

I enjoy the spring but hate tax season. The sounds of birds chirping outside my windows wake me up in the morning, but I can't spend all of my time outdoors. I have to sit inside where the internet signal is strong, and the wind cannot blow financial records into the road.

Are you surprised to hear me mention taxes? US citizens living abroad remain responsible for filing annual income taxes. The only option not to file involves renouncing my citizenship.

I have parents, siblings, and friends in the States that I want to see in person again one day. If I drop my US citizen status I will have to get a tourist visa to visit, and that is extremely tough for former citizens.

Every year, I go through this process of reviewing credit card statements, gathering annual pay stubs, and organizing business expenses. It's a tedious multi-week activity to get my documents prepared for IRS reporting. I have an accountant who configures compliance with tax law and files the necessary paperwork, but it remains a laborious task to get things in order for my preparer.

There are software programs and websites that can help keep financial records throughout the year, but I haven't taken advantage of these resources. After this year's round, I am determined to get better prepared for 2022.

Tumultuous Teaching

I have to approach filing taxes similar to how I prep for the courses that I teach. Each class requires me to research topics, create a lesson, and think critically about the information I want to share with students.

This week I completed an eLearning project for a group of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The mini-course I created provides teachers and students with an interactive lesson in capoeira and meditation. This opportunity to give back to Chicago came from one of my former students from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

This student is a project manager of a non-profit organization that works with CPS. She coordinates creative learning experiences for students from underserved communities. We’ve been in contact over the years and then this opportunity came through for this school term.

It took a couple of months to negotiate the parameters of the project, create the video footage, and deliver the final mini-course. Through email and Zoom, I met with my former student and her supervisor. After several exchanges to determine the outline, we decided to offer a unique virtual lesson.

I am happy with the final product, and I look forward to receiving feedback from the students and teachers.

Virtual teaching is no joke. It isn't easy to translate the in-person classroom experience to a screen. When students choose not to turn on their cameras, it feels like you're talking to yourself.

Depending on the feedback received from pre-recorded lessons, it's also challenging to assess if the time you invested in creating the content was worth the return. Multiple choice quizzes are ok. Short essay assessments are better, but nothing replaces that feeling of being in a class with other people.

This week my middle son had a meltdown in his class's Zoom call. His caring teacher set up a private room for him and eventually pulled him back into the larger group. Virtual teaching can be difficult for the student and teacher.

Let me remind you, as I had to remind myself. We must remember our reasons for listening to the teaching call and believe that we are making a positive impact in the lives of our students.

Tragic Tasers

For me, it's the criminalization of the Black body that pushed me into the teaching profession. I never thought that I could dismantle racism through education, but I became a teacher to dent structural inequalities.

This week officer Kimberly A. Potter killed Duante Wright because she reportedly mistook her firearm for a taser. The story is getting traction everywhere, and I will not re-hatch every detail in this space. But somehow, a routine traffic stop turned lethal, two officers resigned, and protestors hit the streets of Minneapolis.

After three nights of protests, Potter was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. According to a New York Times article, she could receive the maximum punishment of 10 years in prison if convicted for the crime.

History has taught us that it is infrequent for a police officer to serve time.

I understand the rage that is fueling and driving the protestors in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis. The incident happened not far from the George Floyd tragedy.

Between tedious taxes, tumultuous teaching, and tragic tasers, I found peace of mind through my go-to therapeutic activities. You can also tap into your internal reserves by increasing your self-care activities when you experience difficult moments.

Tomorrow, I will end this week with a 14-mile run. Two weeks ago, I ran 13.06 miles; one more mile should not be too awful. I must live by my values of perseverance and endurance. Follow me on Instagram @vernonlindsayphd to see if I am successful. I will post a pic of my watch that tracks my exercise by 10 AM tomorrow.

Read more of my writings that incorporate life abroad, teaching, and black males at this link.

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