This week, I was surprised by a Facebook message. I won Teacher of the Year a few years ago and we have a cohort of 74 amazing teachers from the state of Florida. I had a great idea that I ran by a few Black colleagues (from another entity). We discussed how it would be great if the best of the best would be willing to produce something as a cohort to give back. We won money that year and I can honestly say that about sixty, probably seventy percent went back into the community that I taught. I helped with prom expenses, helped with camps, helped with other things that I just don’t wish to disclose. I did this because I would not have won without those babies.
I realize that I am different. I took a personality test again, and again it comes out as INFJ (https://www.16personalities.com/infj-personality). I’ve taken it about four times over the last few years and I have actually become more and more introverted. I finally figured out why. I distrust many people now. I am very cautious of who I allow in my space even more now. I was pretty oblivious to motives of people, but with each of my kindhearted acts, I come into contact with mean people.
During this pandemic, my son and I have been at peace in my one bedroom apartment. I purged last year after quitting my job due to racism. I moved to another state. My son moved with his dad. My dog and I moved from three bedrooms, lots of storage to a one bedroom. My son moved with his dad (I am emphasizing this because this was our first time being away from each other). I kept only essential things (YUP….lots of shoes are essential…).
I landed a job where there were more people that looked like me; an HBCU. This was for healing purposes because I couldn’t quit understand what happened over the last year. Why would someone want to take advantage of me or even discriminate against me because of the way I look?
I’m nice, I smile big, I laugh LOUD (and I mean loud), I love gifting, I hold intimate conversations with people, I actively listen, but I am also pro-RIGHT! I do not judge, I will literally give the shirt off my back to anyone in need (and this has been noted by a mentee that I actually did this for her), so why would someone do this… hurt me because of my skin color?
I thought about the EEOC I filed. It’s still in process… I thought about the emails. I thought about the actions of my white colleagues and how they paralyzed me. With every racial discussions I facilitate and with every group that I have had discussions with about racism, they don’t understand that this is nothing new.
While we know our blackness great, they cannot seem to see this. We can learn. We are resilient and do not need pity. We do not need for you to make excuses when we are constantly being challenged.
I hate playing the game UNO with kids. They make up rules over and over. They cheat when they are losing. This is what I have found to be an issue with my white colleagues. They make up rules. They do it to educators like me and they do it to our students. But, WE cant seem to understand why we must continue this fight! Why are we fighting a fight that should have ended years ago with The Emancipation Proclamation? And why do people who do not look like us continue to HURT us.
I am tired. They are tired. We are tired.
The comment that was left on my page was an emoji of a peace sign. This is what we we have to deal with very often. It was a white woman who took my weariness, my pain, my exhaustion and used it for her gain. She assumed I was angry by a comment. I shared with her that I wasn’t, but I can assume that my comment “I’m not angry” was not truly received. Instead a barrier comes up because “they” feel attacked. NO! I have right to share my pain. The same way that “they” share their frustrations about menial things; such as, not having enough school supplies, or the paint they purchased for their brand new house was not ordered on time, but we can’t be mad about something that IS and HAS always BEEN BIG and they DONT LISTEN to us!
And when we speak with passion and even become vulnerable, they turn it to themselves. Well, this one time…and Oh yeah, I remember when I was picked on…STOP it! JUST SHUT UP! You are hardly ever the only person that looks like you in a room. You are not the one who advocates for our babies when your “friend” complains about everything regarding that child; from his mom and dad being on drugs, to his scent, to his inability to say the word “ask” correctly. YOU ARE NOT US! You do not face the struggles I face.
I had “that” conversation with my son in elementary school. Do you even know what “that” means? I am still advocating for my son when people with your skin color are AFRAID to say the word “racism.”
I am fighting a battle with colleagues who called me a racist because I was against an assignment. Do you know what that assignment was??? To pretend to be a FREAK**** Slave! What in the hell? And they posted this picture on the walls of the school…and they filed a grievance against me because I sent them an email about coon cooking and lynching. They were uncomfortable? HOW THE heck do you ask someone to be a slave and you are uncomfortable about seeing those picture? What do you think slaves endured…..horseback rides? Swimming in the lakes? Roasting treats over an open fire? Yeah…they were being roasted! So sit down and LET us grieve. Let us hurt, let us talk. LISTEN without sharing your story, because we have listened to you and we are tired of your stories!
I just wanted to propose a great idea for white women and men who are teaching our Black kids to work together to help out with the plight, but instead I get what most that look like me have gotten throughout their life. I am sure they are uncomfortable. I am certain they are oblivious, nervous, unsure, and possibly even frightened to open up to admitting they might have been a part of the issues that are coming to surface now. And while that is not my problem, I am calling them out to fix it so we can fix the education system.
I love to clean. I clean baseboards, I clean cabinets. I am on my hands and knees scrubbing my floor. I do this very very often. I drive my son crazy because I vacuum daily (sometimes two times…DON’T judge me). I light candles, I organize just to reorganize. I clean my shower/ tub daily, I change the clear plastic shower curtain as often as needed. Even with cleaning my shower daily, I still pour cleaning solution into the tub weekly and let it sit. I spray the solution around the tile and I wait a few before I go back into the bathroom to scrub it.
No matter how much I clean during the week, the day that I let it soak, I always find that a little bit of dirt emerges. This is what is happening to us now. With each deep cleaning, we are finding that those people who are and were afraid to address the issues are coming to surface and they might not get it with the daily cleanings, but with a deep clean, they will either be called out and get it, or they might get it when they decide to post or even send private emails (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/cpi-security-ceo-under-fire-after-email-surfaces/ar-BB156FJn) https://www.wsls.com/news/local/2020/06/01/black-liberty-university-alums-rebuke-jerry-falwell-after-blackface-tweet/).
As we continue to become weary of things like cleaning for perfection within all areas of our lives, remember that those pieces of dirt will eventually come to surface. Keep cleaning, even when you are weary….