You should say what you think and feel.
Why? Because you are a human being with human feeling, ideas, and emotions. You are entitled to explain your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Occupying the high profession of educator doesn’t change that basic truth. There is no need to persuade or lecture, to hide, to lie, to feign neutrality.
Be honest. Be vulnerable. Be yourself. Your voice is your own. It is your perspective. The students’ voice is their own. It is their perspective. Their thoughts may be different. This is good. It is possible to create a critical dialogue between different thoughts and perspectives. Critical dialogue paired with reflection creates a powerful praxis. This praxis lays the foundation for a classroom able to actively participate in the creation of its own knowledge.
Students crave this type of dialogue. Students deserve to have this type of dialogue. Students want to know what you think, and they want to express how they think. There is nothing wrong with allowing this type of dialogue.
I used to think I could remain neutral. I used to think I could hide my thoughts and opinions. I thought I could always play the other side. Education doesn’t work that way. Education is not neutral, and my students deserve to hear my individual biases. Is it better to be transparent or to be unconsciously subversive?
Freire (1993) writes:
In the name of the respect I should have for my students, I do not see why I should omit or hide my political stance by proclaiming a neutral position that does not exist. On the contrary, my role as a teacher is to assent the student’s right to compare, to choose, to rapture, to decide (p. 68).
So what should you say when your students ask you about Baltimore? You should tell them what you think and feel. You should let your students do the same.