Sometimes I feel like my only way to power through frustration and misunderstanding is to write. Sometimes paper is the only audience I need because it does not shout back hateful or ignorant comments.
I cannot really wrap all of my thoughts and emotions into one post, but here is a snapshot.
Just listen for a minute.
Less than a month ago, I was invited to trivia night with friends and their husbands. I bailed on trivia nights in the past because it really wasn’t my thing, but I decided I should go this time. As we waited for our food to arrive to the table, I sat and listened to “black jokes” made by the men at the table. They attempted to keep their voices low, so I would not hear, but I did. This was shortly after the “gorilla incident” at the Cincinnati Zoo, so one could only imagine just how degrading these said jokes were. I left. I then received multiple apologies days after the incident. One of the husbands sent me an email expressing his apologies. I had to remind him, the irony of this situation is he is in the field of education.
Now, I may not know everything, but I DO KNOW he has taken multiple classes on diversity, multicultural education, psychology, and working with students of color, so to say the insensitive comments were distasteful is an understatement. He was sitting next to me, another educator, who happens to be a black woman. Needless to say, I responded to his apology by letting him know his actions were inexcusable. Many of you know me well enough to know, I am not one for anything less than real, so you can keep all insincere apologies. In an email, he responded by saying, “It is ironic; not only regarding my profession, but also the educational outreach I’ve been doing over the past year with urban and minority students. I’ve failed them most of all, and that hurts the worst.” I am not buying it.
It sickens me to witness people in service essentially support the school-to-prison pipeline or now, school-to-death pipeline. Honestly, if this is the mindset, how far are you really willing to go to educate or protect one you identify as a wild animal?
We are hurting.
I am a black woman. I am an educator. I am a sister, daughter, lover, and friend. I am responsible for SO many things in my community and I recognize this every single day. I am a role model. I cannot afford to make hurtful comments with the assumption that an apology is enough.
I will NOT say every white educator is insincere and I will NOT say every cop is crooked because I have-(personally)-encountered many more good than bad. I am saying, we have got to do something. We have to do better.
Recognize your role. Educate and Protect.
How do you exhibit your identity?