When We Teach

 

I cringe when my work assignments are in the heart of suburbia. Where 20 minutes feels like an alternate universe of where I could’ve been if I’d stayed comfortable. I search for a face of color at every stop light. I’m called by the name of a black teacher I’ve never seen, a person I’m sure I look nothing like.

It’s not our fault your skin’s the same color as the only one we know..

As much as I want to blame the neighborhoods with the fewer streetlights and larger yards, some of my worse days are smack dab in the city.

I’m sitting with a group of three year olds during snack. Two girls. One boy. Two blondes. One curly haired, brown girl. The only one in class.

They’re having a back and forth of verbal and body speak. I’m a little pensive in the moment, but become immersed in what feels like a bubble these three made. The curly haired girl pets her friend’s straight blonde head as if she’s entranced. The little blonde doesn’t stop her, as if she’s done it before. I witnessed her try it with another blonde earlier in the day. That one said no about three times before she quit. From there she just sat and stared at her loose locks with such wonder. Her eyes were so soft and mesmerized.

Her snacking friend, however, doesn’t seem to care either way. Then suddenly she turns to her and says “I’m light” with a slight inflection, then points and says “you’re dark..”

She repeats it once more with a slight smirk, her pointed finger touching her brown skinned friend’s hand. They both look to the brown hand for some kind of explanation. The brown girl stops. She doesn’t respond. She just. Stops. The boy, somehow knowing where it pick up the conversation from there, points to me and says “and you’re a black girl” with almost as much conviction as his blonde counterpart. I nod, shrug and say “Yes, I am”, but in that moment I wished I had said more, even though I knew I couldn’t. Backing her up was that right thing to do, and yet, the moment was already lost on them. And that was enough of an answer for him. And enough for the girls, who continue with their snack.

And just like that, the bubble burst, and we were back in an unrecognizing classroom, with unaware teachers, with a new toxicity just brewing.

She might not remember the moment, but she’ll never forget the time(s) she felt unworthy of something she can’t quite grasp.

Her blonde friend may very well forget but that brown girl might never recover.

If I can still feel my scars to this day…what little odds does she have?

Some days, teaching gives me the hardest moments of my life. In this moment, for that school, I want to be there everyday and at the same time, never go back.

Don’t say it isn’t trauma. Don’t think they can’t hear our talk or see our body language or read our faces at our distaste for other human beings. Don’t assume for one moment that she won’t go home with that incident. That it won’t burn in her memory of one in many times she felt inferior.

For those small words where put in our heads to chip strong spirits. They were put there by people who should want better for the next generation, but instead let’s their sick hearts push through. There will come a day when your thoughts, good and bad become theirs. Make them well. PLEASE.

I hate how small my city feels sometimes.

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Marriage Isn’t the Finish Line

Or ‘Game Over’..

 

I once had a young woman tell me I’m ‘done’-now that I’m married. She included that there there was nothing to worry about for me anymore. I no longer have to ‘figure out’ things, not on my own at least…

I was horrified by this for a number of reasons:

  1. Holy shit, I’m supposed to know stuff?
  2. I’m obviously not talking about myself enough. This girl thinks I have no hobbies
  3. Seriously, was that a compliment or a dig? Both??
  4. Does our society still believe in the archaic notion of marriage as the beginning of the end?

When I was hearing this, it was at a pivotal time in a year of many changes for me. In the summer of 2015, I was not yet sure of my career goals, but I was actively pursuing something major. I’m not ashamed to say at 28, I’m still learning the numerous attributes I posses, and will continue to nurture (It’s the wanderer in me). I took a step out of my introverted state to mingle, to network, to connect. Also, my level of health and wellness was nearing very close to a goal I set nearly 3 years prior. All of this and more, and not one of those things were in relation to my marital status.

There isn’t anything about my husband I can oversell. He is a master in his art, as he is in all of its glory, a true artist. As a photographer, he excels in vision. He sees the beauty in the unremarkable, and as an art lover, I understood him instantly. I met an intelligent, ambitious and progressive human, who chose me 10 years ago next month. I have the strongest person I could ask for standing beside me, BUT let us not forget…who he has beside him..

There are many reasons for our union, but it being accidental is not one of them. That being said, our individual attributes are just that. We are individuals who thrive on the journeys we take. Through that, we share a common bond to encourage and nurture each other’s individuality. I don’t know what marriage is like for anyone else, but I do know mine, and it’s perfect for us.*

I’m bothered not by the assumption that two people must rely on one another in marriage, that’s warranted. But the assumption that two people must rely on one another for happiness, and even further- wholeness. I always happy, but I will need to experience so many more things before I’m ready to say I’m whole or ‘done’. And I hope I never get there. We help each other along in our individual journeys and celebrate each others’ victories. I won’t rag on how other people love. This is the kind of partnership I’ve always wanted. I was never going to be a ‘kept’ wife. I like to argue far too often. I urge anyone to seek what they want, and don’t compromise what’s important to you. Don’t settle once you’ve reached your goal, because it’ll slip away as soon as you get comfortable. That goes for anything.

Even our millennial generation holds viewpoints outdated, yet still pervasive in our current society (But that’s for another post). I don’t blame her for her insight, only on the assumption that every marriage is the same. But let me also make it clear, that I do not and NEVER HAVE thought a woman needs a significant other for any reason. I told my husband early in our relationship that I cared deeply for him but didn’t need him for anything (seems harsh now, but I meant it and I still believe in loving myself first).

She had no idea I was a badass, and for that, I’ll just have to make my presence known a little louder.

V

 

 

*This is why it’s incredibly difficult to give marriage advice to friends. We are so strange; we talk to our cat like he’s human and have dance parties in the living room where we YouTube songs and flail about and we probably drink too much, but I’m working on that because, you know, health and wellness and whatnot