Working towards keeping the peace… in our minds

COVID has slowed us down tremendously or has it?

I watched my dog sit in front of our patio door yesterday. He sat still watching whatever he saw for minutes. He didn’t move. He just stared.

I watched him and during that time all thoughts of everything faded. I didn’t think of how many more assignments I had to grade or what I was going to cook for dinner. I didn’t think of the crazy shit our President continues to say. I didn’t wonder why certain states were reopening or why crazy folks are protesting. I stopped thinking about that political leader who wore a mask of the confederate flag.

I stopped thinking about the dumb posts from educators who I see throughout Twitter. I stopped thinking about my previous post about issues I’ve discussed.

I just watched him and realized that in order to gain peace, we also need to learn to be still…in our minds too!

#AreYouBeingStill #SpikeTeachesMe #ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceIt

Healed after that intimate encounter with racism

A little over two weeks ago, I received an email from a former student I had last year. She was (and I sure still is) an ideal student. I was impressed with her “out the box” thinking. She is a young white girl. One year ago I taught this young lady. One year ago I encountered what many Black teachers encounter; racism. For me, I’ve been blessed despite those moments that I almost hated people. But God doesn’t hate so why should I? And most importantly, HE continues to put me on the “path to righteousness.” I wrote a book, I still have a roof over my head, and I have a testimony that has truly made me that much stronger.

The testimonies that were read from the investigation share, “Every chance she gets she lets people know that she is black…” and “ she is a racist with “serious mental issues, bi-polar with narcissistic tendencies.” Whoa, right… I’m a narcissist … like Me??? And hell yeah I’m proud to be a Black woman! I’m especially proud during Feb as an English educator!!!!! Say it loud: I’m BLACK AND IM PROUD!!! Are people still so oblivious to understanding why this is important? I had to wait for a black baby to be ordered growing up because we didn’t just have them on the shelves…. this is why I EDUCATE 🥱

I share color because despite what people want to believe; race does matter… it really matters! Skin color does matter. Must I say that again?!

Growing up, I was surrounded by drug dealers and so many others that we judge. I was pushed to go to college and be in the midst of “whiteness” and told that college would help me out of my “evil” environment. I don’t believe in that anymore. My environment might have been hopeless, but the evil came because of our circumstances that were decided by people that didn’t look like us. The one thing that those drug dealers and those that I grew up around did for me is push me when I could have lost hope. They never sabotaged me and they knew me. They spoke to me and not at me. I knew their struggles. I knew their families. We were and still are the same. We are tired of the bull crap that this institution called life has to offer black and brown people. We try and we continue to be pressed into the soil; unseen, drowned by the excess water and soil that those that try to disregard our character subject us to… and eventually we blossom, but some…. they don’t…because they just don’t do so well without sunlight and the love they need….

But, they knew my character. They knew my worth and still every so often “those” that we criminalize send me praises because I made it and I send them thanks because I could have never made it without them. The institution of whiteness in most of our areas of life do not work that way. They are heartless. They are cruel. They are too damn busy competing to see there is no damn need for competition. There is enough to go around. They make assumptions and instead of seeing me or anyone that look like me as a person, they fear what they could use to help them to become better. Read that again…… they fear what they could use to help them become better. Yeah… people like me can help….

That student that sent me the message is my hope. She is my hope that she will always speak her truth and never judge based off of the majority. She is my hope that there are white young ladies who will tell the truth even when…society might label them.

The above colleague that stalked me and “cyber-bullied” me was reprimanded, because although he shared a few times he didn’t “google” me on government computers, the truth eventually came out and he confessed (hmmmm the White tears he also displayed). And paper trails don’t lie.. 🥱

His rationale was dumb as hell, but it boiled down to he wanted to learn more about this #dopeAss Black woman with multiple degrees who we call Dr. But, why? It didn’t matter what I did (bringing gifts back from Jerusalem or even Chicago writers museum or even sharing a blog I wrote about my experience in Normandy for D-Day because this person was going for the summer…. they still yearned to know more… I guess what they say about Black women being enticing…. or is it just pure hate…and I’m not obligated to let anyone in… No One!) nothing was enough for them to … See Me…. like …see me. I shared I was black, but did they understand or do they understand what this means?

This entire situation was horrible on so many levels. For one, this particular colleague did so much gossiping that I am unsure how he was even able to teach his students. The other “educator” was and maybe still sleeping with a student (I believe she married him according to texts I received 🤷🏽‍♀️ from people who I’ve blocked because they were too afraid to share truth…. they even sent me a picture of them together…this young boy and this grown a$$ woman…and I must say God has worked on me… DO NOT blog or upload that picture because it just doesn’t matter….I don’t know but I pray that they both have taken moments to reflect on what it means to be an educator) but they were concerned about how I pushed my students to excel?

One of the young white girls who was interviewed and recorded me, recorded me fussing at a young male. This young male was Black. His parents were fully aware of what I did to help him. I have a recording and screen shot of messages. We went to lunch and they shared how white moms made a Facebook post to bash me; comments read “we hate her because she is not teaching the curriculum and she has talked about blacks people every day last month.” WTF…. it was taken down, but it was February and not only did I reach the curriculum, but I know the curriculum. I have index cards with the standards that I lay out as I prepare lessons. But, of course hateful people don’t care because again they saw me as a Black woman and regardless of what I did…. I was wrong.

I also had conversations that I recall vividly with this young girl telling me about her alcoholic father and how she always tried to fit in. She moved from another state as most military kids do and she shared her struggle to “fit in.” She shared a horrible story of how she tried to fit in the year before and really wanted friends…. so I guess to gain attention she did what many do…. and white privilege is real even if you are mixed. I’ve noticed a Cuban man consider himself White. If you look it… go for what will be less of a struggle for you, right?

Another parent contacted me just a few months ago to see if I would be willing to be her child’s trust agent. This is a Black male and I advocated for him. But obviously all of these comments don’t mean anything because two white hateful former colleagues comments about me (me???? I’m still shocked!) being a “bigot” who is “living in an alternate reality” because I am aware that race matters in education and that it is pretty damn bad to sleep with your students and come to work drunk. White privilege…. this is a great example of this….and culturally our Black kids are faced with more because they are judged from the very moment they step into the class… school. And they are looked at based on their circumstances and not their potential.

And of course those parents who had me on Facebook and who blatantly said …. you know mean things that white women still say to black women…ha… will never change… (side note: and one reason why I remind my BLACK son to provide all information when he goes out with White girls…..and who cares if you judge me….🥱)

At any rate, I thank everyone for such experiences because it has given me something to push forward to everyday. It has shown me what love really means, it has made me forgive people even when I’ve wanted to hate, but most importantly it shows that race does matter. And it also shows that there are still so many Blacks afraid of those racial encounters they will “bow down….” and close their eyes. We can change but until it’s addressed, it will never go away and we need strong people unafraid of losing their jobs with integrity to be change agents… that’s ME!!!!

I was investigated, falsely accused, and every single podcast, webanir, text message, evaluation, etc that I have had over the years have been pretty accurate…. I fuss and I push because I care. Yes!!! I FUSS!

As for the young lady who recorded me, I pray for her and her family.

My son recently wrote an inmate. This inmate was falsely accused and his jurors were all white. He is sitting in prison for many years because of a white girl. He is a Black male less than six years older than my own son. I remind my son very often to be mindful of who he associates with and especially drives in his car. Often time when people do not get their way or feel overshadowed, they might do mean things, so never lose who you are.. EVER because they will not feel bad and will carry on with their lives. And then what happens to you?? Focus my dear Black son because even now you are still unsafe.

I continue to fuss and I continue to receive amazing messages. I continue to let people know that I will only change to make myself a better educator, but I will always be a proud Black woman! Where I have come from, many do not succeed and those that are white and privileged will never understand.

Thank you for the text young person. Thank you for being true to you and seeing the difference I made in your life. That day, you answered a question that I asked God, “Why?” And daily he shows me those circumstances made me stronger, made my voice louder, and proved that race….does matter!

#Healed #ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceTheHellOutOfIt

http://www.teachillinois.com/podcast/ep-35-building-positive-student-teacher-relationships-with-kiera-vargas

Being an “educator”during this time and any time to our Black males

I’m what some might consider a bad mom. I am an educator, so what I am about to say will probably make other educators and parents judge me, but I truly do not care. I’m also considered a racist and ill-prepared to teach (despite my credentials and my many accolades which are obviously lies🙄) to individuals who were reprimanded for stalking me at my last place of employment. This last event taught me why I will continue to advocate. They could look me up because I “talked too much about Blackness,” during Black history, but my methods of pushing our students to defy assumptions made about them were wrong. Today I laugh at my 2019 as I complete my evaluation with my supervisor and as I have several speaking engagements lined up, discussing the issues that students like my son face.

My son has moved schools five times in five years. He attended the same school from kindergarten until his fifth grade graduation. These are the years that promoted me to truly see how our Black males were treated. His school administrators; (all White) were so evil and rude. I refused to pull him out and we pushed them to do better for all of our minority students. It was a charter school and the founders were unethical. I remember the last time I ever met with the founder of the charter school and how she stood up, slammed her chair to the table because she was angry with me. I politely told her I appreciate meeting with her, which made her angrier. This was not the first time I witnessed White educators angry with me for advocating for my son or other minorities that are treated unfairly. They never know much about me until the meeting. A friend of mine who is a principal does the same thing. He introduces himself, but never let the teachers know his career. This year his Black sons teacher found out after her ill-made comments about his son. I enjoyed reading the email he sent to the teacher with his title. Why do we need to do this for our Black males?

Back to my son: His seventh grade teacher disrespected one of his peers, my son told me and because his mom was unable to advocate, I did. Most years I volunteered at the schools. And because of this, I saw first hand what our minority students face in an all-white setting. They become uncomfortable…. and parents that advocate are seen as “trouble-makers.” I’m one of the biggest ones! Hmmmm maybe someone will send me a shirt with that. Oh! I made one and sent them to educators with the hashtag #MakeThemBelieve 😳.

I still have parents call for advice and share their concerns. Many are parents that are extremely intelligent, but when they are confronted by White teachers who deem their Black sons as “below average” they need help…

It’s taxing. It’s annoying. It’s actually fuc$ed up. But it sums up the issues that minority parents face and are facing now during COVID. Because of my “behavior” along with others, his fifth grade graduation was hosted by.. me! The parents complimented us and helped in so many ways because his White administrators threw a temper tantrum that year because parents were tired of them hurting our babies.

Many will never be able to understand this. I listen a lot when I’m around educators complain about our kids and honestly it’s sickening. It’s sickening because they are oblivious to the purpose of education. It’s not about judging a student, but it’s about taking the tools that we have from practical life and our textbooks to create options and hope for our babies.

My sons 11th grade guidance counselor hurt his feelings. I hurt his feelings. His dad has hurt his feelings. We all hurt each other’s feelings.

She judged him based on his past. She made false assumptions about him and because of his issues with racism last year, he was giving up. He shared with me what she said and I had to take off mommy hat and be rationale.

He had a 3.something until this year. He transferred to a predominately White private school with kids who have known each other most of their lives. She didn’t know what he went through; living through a coma, seeing and witnessing racial issues last year in Kentucky, but she judged him based off of what she thought or who she thought his parents were.

I’m absent this year (or was until COVID) so his dad is now the single parent. He is also a cop. He works late hours, so Anthony has not just transitioned to being with his father, but also to a new school AGAIN. Her comments were one that our black males face from White teachers and even with my emails correcting her, she still did not get it and will not get it.

During COVID, what are you doing to ensure our young males who are overpopulating our prisons will remain hopeful? It saddens me that there are no many educators still with biases and will avoid the issues versus deal with them. I spoke with a White male I respect and he shared that it’s hard for some to hold such conversations. Passing judgment on my child, you would never know how smart he is just like so many other students I teach; particularly our Black males.

Educators are complaining and failing to see the big picture. This is our time to truly give without many restrictions, so enjoy your babies and PUMP them up to believe in themselves.

#ThisThingCalledLifeStopJudging

Six weeks of quarantine …what have you learned about yourself?

I’ve quarantined myself and my son for about six weeks thus far. I have ventured outside of my home four times; grocery store twice and a park to just get fresh air about one week ago.

I’ve learned and self-diagnosed myself with ADHD. I do not complete a task in one setting. I complete the task, but I have also completed twenty other tasks and nineteen of them are not on my “to do” for the day. I am pretty OCD. I vacuum my house about twice a day. I annoy myself with organization. I re-organize things almost daily. I waste candles because I burn them all day. I drive my son crazy with all of the above and I can …admit that I might be…THAT….mom who …is perfect. LOL …who is just annoying.

I have learned how to truly let go of technology. A student of mine shared they wish they could have face to face interaction again because they were tired of technology and I realized that many probably feel this way. I felt headaches coming on, so I let go of technology during certain parts of the day.

I am pretty lazy now. I set a time to get up to exercise and I make excuses why it cannot happen at that time. The weather is too cold, but the next day when it is perfect…hmmmm it is too hot. I just don’t want to exercise and mentally I just cannot do it at the moment I have also told myself. The bottom line for me is I am just …lazy. And maybe sometime this summer I will exercise…or not…

I have a pretty dry sense of humor, but I laugh so darn loud. My son and I are very silly together, but I am pretty hard on him. I am hard for numerous reasons; mainly, he is a Black boy in the …US…world and I want to ensure that he is confident, competent, and knows how to take care of himself. This might seem bad, but I remind him that if anything ever happens to me during his youth, he has to be mindful of those lessons that we teach him. I’ve learned that I am a pretty good mom with many unorthodox methods and views.

I am pretty consistent. I do the same things weekly. I mail cards to people. I send messages to friends and family via text. I read books. I listen to podcast. I hold conversations with my son. I hold conversations with my inner circle and we laugh, share stories, and check on each other. I pray and complete my daily devotions (and this is actually all day). I found that I pray more than I even realized.

What have you realized about yourself and how does this translate into: You are pretty amazing?

#ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceIt #ThisThingCalledLifeDuringQuaratined #ThisThingCalledLifeImGreat

While being quarantined teach your students about racism…

Appalling is an understatement regarding how I and those that look like me feel about this post (it’s below). Quite often I speak up about many things regarding racism and when it’s done in front of White people, very often I’m bashed. One comment that I read was “…she is a bigot and a racist” and this was after I addressed the institutional racism that was viewed by not just Black people, but all people. It becomes a lesson that you hold on to….to help you prosper. But to ensure you are able to process it, dialogues in a safe haven must be done.

It’s hateful, it’s hurtful, and one of the many reasons why I have been in therapy with many that are in my circle. We are tired as hell… (I think I can say fuck here) of dealing with people who are oblivious to the path that we walk daily. Even now with zoom sessions being compromised and leaving yet another example of what we as Black people face so often.

Often I have to remind my Black teenage son about the white girls that he interacts with on his social media. His dad and I are always finding resources to show him the importance of being mindful because racism stems from your environment. Our teens are taught this by their environment; more than likely their families. Teens from such backgrounds tend to shed tears after they have been caught …. what happens when our Black males or females just walk anywhere and are instantly charged with something they could have never done? Do we offer them an apology or do we even allow them tissue to wipe their tears?

I recall so often my mom reminding me of this and the one time I let my guard down… I was stabbed in the back by a few whites who never even got a chance to know me (and even with me trying to help them see me… never did. I even purchased them gifts, but all they could see is a passionate Black woman who introduced her White students to Black history during the month of February) but what was most hurtful was I was also pushed down into the ground by someone that looked like me. Actually a few…. They were afraid to stand up for what was right. They whispered words and even asked many questions on the side, but when they were exposed…. they lied. I can’t blame them though…. they can’t risk their livelihood on every racial issue we go through, right?

And what was fortunate about the situation for me is… paper trails do not lie.

As we are being quarantined and as we are supposedly “teaching” educators, teach your students beyond their environment because I don’t know what your experience is with Blackness, but some of the most influential people that I have become acquainted with are Black and we do not live up to the falsified previews of the media regarding “blackness.” As a matter of fact what really does it mean to be black? Hmmmmmmmmm

https://twitter.com/camden52801/status/1250945662327361537?s=20

We are #BlackGreatness #ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceMYBlackness

Maybe there will be teachers who will be fired soon too… #SpeakUp and administrators too…

https://twitter.com/camden52801/status/1251229300579340288?s=21

Sisterhood is Essential

I’m blessed to be a member of so many organizations, but one in particular is Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

This organization is a Greek sorority founded to assist with the plight of African American issues by African American women who challenged themselves to make a difference. Over 100 years later and many thousands of sorority sisters later, this organization still leaves an imprint on our community.

I was honored to join in 2010 with twenty other beautiful, inspiring, educated women on my line; The Titanic.

As I wrote in a card that was in our celebration box, we embody so much as a group of dignified women.

From nurses, school administrators, librarians, teachers, attorneys, business owners, engineers, policy makers, chefs, and so many other professions, I am blessed to have a community of inspiring Black women in my life.

Can you believe how short 100 years ago was? As I do, I’m forced to think of the struggles that Black women have faced and all that we are still conquering to advocate for equality. In such a short time my organization continues to do so much while continuously following the sentiments that were set by our founding members.

I’m blessed to celebrate 10 years in an organization that is still working to advocate, find advancements, and work collaboratively to help our community with issues past and present.

10 years down and a life time to grow!

#TheTitanic #Spring2010 #HighPointAlumnae #AllOfMYLOVEtoDST

https://youtu.be/AVRAckocYxQ

#Titantic2010DontRushChallenge

Continue reading “Sisterhood is Essential”

Find YOU while things are temporarily closed

It truly takes a lot work me up. When I do become worked up, everyone know. I’m passionate about fairness, equality, and just common sense practices. Common sense to me obviously looks different to many for various reasons. We are in a state of stillness and many would rather complain ….failing to see all of the many things that they have. I realized that to be happy with what you have, you have to be happy with you. And how do you do this?

I’m blessed to have a circle that will correct me, that will embrace me, and also push me personally and professionally in order to help me with growth. One of my favorite people reminded me the other day that “everyone cannot be in your circle, but everyone can have a position in your square.” I’m glad to have a circle that is realistic about the purpose that people serve in our live. This is something that I struggled with because I never wanted to disappoint people. I wanted people to see who I was. I wanted people to see the goodness of my heart and I often time was the person to always reach out and start conversations or who set up meet ups.

As I continue to embrace the silence and calmness of my life during this epidemic, I am beyond happy to have a moment or two or even three of downtown. To cleanse my mind, to make me stronger, and even give me time to enjoy those things we purchase but never get a chance to use.

I’m thankful to be able to connect with myself. The other day I realized I needed to do more than just binge tv and pray for the thirty minutes that I give myself. I realized that in order to truly continue finding or embracing myself I needed to sit truly still. And I did that.

I found myself sitting in my closet breathing slow with my eyes closed. I sat with a blank mind and I gave thanks to all that I have, I gave thanks to the peace that this epidemic has afforded me. I prayed for those without homes. I prayed for my students who are working as essential workers, I prayed for our government, I prayed for the world. And I did this for three hours. And I did it again the next day. I removed myself from technology. I removed myself from the news and from all of the television shows that have captivated me over the last few weeks.

This made me feel like… me. It helped me to see my purpose. It helped me to see the good in what many are seeing as bad. As I begin my online classes daily, I encourage my students to share positive sentiments from their week and a comment arrived in my email the other day, “those comments and those daily reminders and positive clips you share motivate me because I have felt overwhelmed with anxiety. Don’t stop this for us please.” And I promised I would keep this up daily for them.

The post that I read from some showed many selfish comments about needing to flee from the house. When I read them I wondered if they knew there were people who would love to be in their house? I wondered if people ever sat down to truly give thanks and go through what they have to see just how blessed they are.

As you continue with your day, your week, being quarantined find the good. I’m sure it’s difficult, but remember to take a moment to find you and that might mean sitting in total silence and praying and just thanking God, the universe, whomever you pray to for all that you have.

#ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceIt

#FindYou

At this point….While You Are Home

As we continue to sit still and pray for guidance…

Remind yourself not to overthink,

Remind yourself to laugh,

Remind yourself that this is only temporary,

Remind yourself that change is good,

And that when we conquer this next forty days, how much better we will be,

Focus, thrive on the good in this situation…

#ThisThingCalledLife #ImSoHappyImAbleToSitStil #StayHome

Remember to take mental health moments -Relax, Relate, Release

We dream of sitting in the house to relax during the week. While sitting in meetings throughout the week, our minds often drift to what we will do over the weekend. Thoughts of sleeping until noon, binge watching a television show on Netflix, going for that run that you have been been meaning to get in since last week, or even decluttering. Now, with COVID-19 taking over our daily lives, we have nothing but time, but many are becoming antsy and not really interested in those things on the to-do list that they once had with an extremely busy schedule.

Some say they are more stressed and extremely overwhelmed and unsure of how to balance. First thing is first….STOP, and relax, and walk away for a moment or two. I have sat and watched my teenage son daily sit and complete assignments on his laptop at a desk daily and I have become probably just as anxiety-ridden as many of the students facing such challenges. I had a student text me earlier this week, and then another, and then another email sharing that they were trying to cope with online courses, and I issued out the same advice.

Step away! Walk, run, cry, throw something (just not at anyone please…), or just turn on music. I realized how much this new way of life has been peaceful for me, but I also realize that many are struggling and now is the time to contact online therapists and digging down to figure out what additional things could assist you. I do realize that there are an abundance of resources, but start with stepping away for a moment, calling someone that you trust to help you, and then taking the next step.

One of my favorite tv shows growing up was A Different World and this scene is what comes to mind anytime I begin to feel that anxiety arising. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuNLVV6Yvks

Sending you and yours blessings,

#ThisThingCalledLife #RelaxRelateRelease

Make a to do list today and begin checking it off

Playing jacks, playing make believe with my refrigerator and stove, cabbage patch kids, and listening to music on my small radio with a cassette tape option are fond memories that I have growing up. The refrigerator and stove were located in the hall closet of our apartment in Woodsong in the late 1980’s.

I read nonstop. I had a library card and I looked forward to any book I could get my hands on to read. The pages in the book took me far away. They made me a believer because sometimes after reading about things I didn’t know about, I went to my Encyclopedia to learn more about that topic. This was exciting for me. I was never bored and in 2020 with many more things to do in the confines of my space, I’m definitely not bored.

I’ve organized my closet. I’ve purged, I have read articles and even a book that I’ve been meaning to read. I started running again and I don’t have to rush home to get any of it done. I’ve sat with my son for two weeks and I cannot say that I’m bored at all. It shows that I’ve spent about 1.5 hours on my phone yesterday and about 2.5 the day before and that’s surfing social media, but the rest of the time I’m actually in a productive state of mind.

I have both extroverted and introverted tendencies. I enjoy social gatherings, but what I enjoy most is the common sense and looking at the big picture of life. I’ve created a to do list just about every day. I’m planning to finalize my new dream board that will highlight things that I would like to accomplish over the next forty days.

We have about forty days to just sit and be still and focus on new goals, give attention to the “food” that’s already on our plates versus adding anything else, and to be productive in our own homes. While social distancing might seem hard for many, think of how much you can grow and accomplish those tasks that are never checked off …. now you can do that.

I challenge you to see #TheGoodIn2020 and make use of your time as we are in #ThisThingCalledSolitude

Share what goals you will accomplish and begin your dream board! I’m working on mine and I can’t wait to finish!

#SitAndFindPeace #CleanUp #Organize #BePositive #CheckOff