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The Art of Troublemaking
November 13, 2023
Don't waver. Don’t let despair sink its sharp teeth Into the throat with which you sing. Escalate your dreams.
-Aurora Levins Morales, Writer, Artist, Historian, Teacher
 “In life, we pick up many treasures that sometimes we forget we have, and that is where the voices of our companions come whisper in our ears to remind us to polish those treasures and make them shine again,” writes Olga Lacayo, in her new bilingual book, The Art of Troublemaking | El arte de crear problema. Lacayo is referring to life tools and perspectives passed to her by grandparents and others in her Garifuna community. Her companion here is her program’s quality improvement coach Eliana Elias, a trusted mentor who listened and stood by her side as Lacayo chose to boldly and compassionately address racism with children, colleagues and superiors.

Elsewhere in the book, Elias shares her reflections on the event that had spurred Lacayo to action:  

”I still remember the day Olga showed me Jennifer’s picture [of Lacayo depicted as a monkey]: there was hurt in her eyes, but there was also electrifying determination. A determination I had not seen in the year-and-a-half that I had worked with her as a coach. Even her physical demeanor had changed: she looked taller to me. I felt like I was being invited into a journey, a quest of sorts. This journey, I thought, would be both exciting and scary.

”This was the beginning of a new stage in our relationship, moving from being kind and civil to each other to taking a leap into really working together on something deeply significant for Olga. For me, this was also a meaningful way to move beyond the more typical—and superficial—coaching approach to “diversity and equity” goals that focuses on helping teachers create multicultural environments and curriculum activities. Here was an opportunity to connect Olga’s experience with Jennifer at the easel with her larger professional development goals of growing into an anti-racist leader.”


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