I am a Black woman. I was born to Black parents. I experienced what people deem as the “typical” Black persons life. I grew up in a pretty loving environment, but I also saw a lot of harsh circumstances; such as, arrests, prostitution, molestation, family abuse, physical abuse, prison, drugs, divorce, welfare, death, and fights. These are just a few of those harsh circumstances that come to mind when I think of my past environment.
I also noticed love, traditions, resilience, dedication, culture, holidays, family reunions, music, overcoming, and even standing up for what is right. There are many more words, but these are words that remind me of growing up while Black.
We experience life the same as the next person. We get up and eat like the next person. We take showers, we drive, we watch television. Why am I saying all of this? Because growing up as a Black woman… teenager…young girl has had its difficulties, but definitely has had its pivotal moments.
Recently I’ve been going through an interesting time in my life. Some might say it’s because I’m a threat to certain people because of my confidence, education background, and the fact that I am secure in myself (confidence stated a different way). Others might say because of the world we live in and as a Black woman, and Black male ( this topic gets its own posts) we always have to prove ourselves. Or, it could be both! I’m certain it’s both…. I am! For the last few days I’ve been sitting in what I joking say “jail #2.” I’m under investigation again at work because my white colleagues continue to bring on false allegations that continue to be dropped. Or it could be because my students and their parents believe my tone is condescending and I’m a big, Black bully. I’m firm. I have classroom management. I follow rules. I try to have a positive atmosphere in my class.
The problem is, we continue to allow things like this to happen. We allow teachers to discriminate. We allow parents to come and tell teachers off when they know their kids are not always well behaved. So, instead of being at the school to welcome my kids with the handshakes that they have forced me to remember, the book quizzes they have given me, and even just the run down of how their day was the day before, I’m forced to sit (actually it’s a bit nice) and wait on my “verdict.” I’ve taught for many years now and have never had as stressful as a year as I have had this year (I thought last year was bad with the racism, but whoa! He keeps showing me what #blacklivesmatter and #blackgirlsrock and #blackgirlmagic) really is!) Racism as we know it is a social construct that man has created to pull each other down. It’s creation is reason why we have many that lack confidence. It’s reason why the population of minorities are still trying to get a fair advantage to start the race. I wonder if a Black mom can file emotional distress charges on her childs White teacher because he is in 11th grade and cannot read? Or because the teacher constantly gossips about the childs life in the hallway with her colleague…. of course not!
I was called a racist because I decided to discontinue reading and teaching Huck Finn. Nowhere in my standards, required me to teach that book, but I did until I saw the faces and the behaviors of my students. I decided to find other ways to give them the standards and an understanding of Blacks who lived in slavery. Instead of seeing Jim, the black “run away from the book” In the typical way we deem Blacks during slavery, I elected to look at positive Blacks, while also introducing them to things that occurred during slavery so they could see something they would probably never learn. This insulted my colleagues so bad. It insulted them so bad that they complained about me because …. according to one “I should have just skipped over the n word ” versus failing to teach it. I teach at a majority school, and while I have students research along with pay attention to my lessons in which I teach them about various cultures, our students now are somewhat desensitized about a lot of things. In this case it’s the history of Blacks.
After having them research on their own and present, I also provided information about the book. We discussed the controversies noted and even as I wondered why my White colleagues wanted to teach this book versus others, I still agreed to collaborate with them. One mentioned and actually juxtaposed the n-word to being a “faggot.” He said as a gay man, he just ignores it and that’s what I should have done along with my students who felt uncomfortable. If only he could have read my thoughts…. I had a lot of them…….but he re-emphasized that I could have just skipped over it. Do you know how many times that word is in the book? I believe it’s over 200 times. So if I skip the word, would that make it better? Would students stop chuckling because they see the word? I have no idea what it would do, but I know it’s the dumbest (sh….. naw….) thing I’ve ever heard!
But I was still going to teach it….
That is until I saw the faces of my students when we were discussing the book. My few black students looked uncomfortable and several of the Whites chuckled (I’m going to assume innocently). Now, I taught African American courses as a college lecturer for years, but this was a bit different. And it’s not that I could not handle reading through the book, but as I constantly asked my colleagues all year, why are we doing certain assignments? I’ve taught the book before with different objectives, but do you even know the purpose of covering the book in its entirety? What objectives and lessons are we covering? There was never a response and I realized why…..
Instead of planning lessons, they were too busy googling me; learning about the law school that I graduated from that closed down. They were too busy googling me to see that I have a Congressional Record Tribute. They were too busy googling me to see that I also received scholarships for a mainstream graduate school I attended after law school AND after my first masters. They were too busy trying to find ways to learn about me. They were too busy trying to figure out how I wear the title Dr! A black woman that I have to call Dr…. hmmmmmm let me check to see if she has all of her credentials…
This is what it means to be a Black Woman…. my degrees are not enough. My lifestyle seems abnormal because television and other forms of media do not give a true depiction of us… you know black and brown people. Too many who have never been around us, I should be struggling versus being financially stable enough to drive my Audi. I should not have accomplished all of the degrees that I hold and earned in a timely matter and still have 15 years under my belt in a profession by the time I was in my mid 30’s. Hell, how do I have a second car and I’m single! Oh my! What about that rental property that I’m certain that found under my name too… I should not be allowed to share my experiences, but instead I should shut my mouth and never mention them even though they are sharing how I have and others have helped our babies in the system. This school system (I’m saying this very vaguely) where our kids are being pushed to the side while teachers are googling their coworkers and giving out worksheet and/ or talking about heir colleagues to their students! What kind of mess is this? Oh yeah!! This is America…. Oh! And I should not have a 6’0 plus tall son who is currently in Algebra II and other classes with mostly upper classmen and kids that are of the majority because I am a “single” mom. As a matter of fact they are probably trying to figure out my relationship status because that’s what they do…. that’s what people do when they see successful Blacks…. hmmmm I wonder if his dad (who is pretty darn amazing in his life) ….I’m an anomaly… I’m different and I’m overall not qualified enough and even with all that I have, I will never be qualified enough because….I am a Black woman!
All of this is fiction! It’s what stresses Black women (I’m speaking more for myself right now) out. I’m educated enough to obtain the same job that one has, but in the workplace I’m still challenged and seemingly hazed.
I have no clue why this is the case, but as I spoke with my dad and others, it’s never going to leave us. Even in 2019, there is still this ideal that certain groups of people are not suppose to “shine.”
Why is that? Oh, yeah it’s because I’m a black ( this time I lowercased it because this is symbolic of what I am to them) woman! And as one of those types of women, I’m suppose to … oh yeah … be stereotyped and uneducated and behave belligerently. But that is not me…
So why is it that even in 2019, Blacks are still challenged? Why is it that in 2019, I’m questioned about my path? Why are still so many Black firsts in 2019?
This also stood out discussing the implications of privilege and reading material from that of a man who sees privilege: