I actually planned on writing my post on my first year teaching but it will just have to wait until next week. I honestly didn’t really want to write this post but I just have some stuff I need to get off my chest. Again, not trying to start trouble or whatever and I don’t know. I just hate seeing what’s going on in the world. I usually try to stay out of conversations about race relations because it’s a touchy subject for some people. I saw a post on Instagram about how maybe we DO need to have the difficult conversations. It will make us grow as an individual.
I’ll start at the beginning. I was born and raised in Miami, Fl. Miami is a pretty diverse place (hell, we’re the home to Florida International University). My neighborhood is pretty diverse. I had black, white, and latino neighbors. My school was pretty diverse, although, the higher classes you took like Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes you took, the higher the chance it was for a lack of black kids in the class. I honestly didn’t mind because I got along with everyone and had friends of different races anyway. I was honestly living in a nice bubble where everyone got along.
I was raised by my grandparents, who both lived through the civil rights movement here in America and in the Jim Crow era. My grandpa was raised in Miami, FL and my grandma was born in southern Georgia and moved to Tallahassee. Naturally, my grandma honestly don’t have the best opinion of someone white, which I understand but don’t agree with but I can’t tell her how to feel when she felt like she was treated as less than compared to white people. My grandpa chose to chase after life and create a better life for himself and his family, despite the hardships life gave him. My grandma was more of a stay in line type of person.
As I was growing up, my aunt became a Jehovah’s Witnesses. I went with her to all the meetings and services. One thing that stands out to most people is how diverse the crowd is. Everyone is just loving to each other. We (they but you know, I was raised in the lifestyle kinda) follow after Jesus’ and God’s example of being impartial and loving towards all, not just those whom we all agree with. It’s a genuine love, not one where it’s just a facade. It’s refreshing for people just to see you as another person, a friend, and family. That’s just how I grew up. I saw people of different races and ethnicities loving each other and marrying each other and being real friends with each other. It wasn’t until I went to college when I was shown what racism looked like. How other people really viewed black people.
I remember one time on Facebook, I was scrolling through my newsfeed when I saw a post from someone that I went to school with. He wasn’t black and his words cut so deep that I removed him from my friends list. I didn’t read the entire post but he said “You Fucking Niggers…”. Those were his words exactly. Some people wrote their disgust in the comments. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I felt so betrayed and hurt. And I know some people will say “oh you call each other that in songs” and to be honest I don’t like it either but there’s something about the “-ER” pronunciation and not the “-AH” pronunciation that doesn’t sit right in my soul. When I was growing up, latinos and blacks used the term in a not so demeaning way. It’s just how they spoke to each other so it was normal. But when you use it to tear down black people or use it in a negative connotation, it’s just wrong! I was grateful to that one latino person who stood up for us and tried to reason with the boy who made the post. It really meant a lot to me for him to speak out the way that he did!
Before I go any further, race is not a political issue. It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue although some (not all) people will try to turn it into such a thing. It’s more of a just human right. Is racism bad or not? Thats it. It doesn’t matter what race you are or political affiliation; ethnicity or gender. The question is, do you believe racism is wrong?
There are also others that believe that only certain races can be racist and I totally disagree. Anyone can be racist. Let me say that again. ANY RACE CAN BE RACIST. I personally have some friends who believe that sentiment and I have other friends who don’t. So yes black people can be racist. To turn a blind eye to your own racism will not help anyone. Just think of things you can do to check yourself, to check your racism. Learn to see color. I learned last year about why saying “I don’t see color” is actually not a good thing. Yes me the black girl has learned that later on in life. We do need to see color. We need to see each other’s colors and embrace them because it’s what makes us unique. Don’t only turn to POC to teach you about how to be more diverse (although it is the nice start). Teach yourself. Actually listen to others. If you’re in any type of minority (gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc) learn to be empathetic with each other. It baffles my mind when I see some members of the LGBTQ+ community be racist against black people. Also the whole #BlackLives Matter movement is not saying that only black people matter. We know that all lives matter BUT we’re (black folks) are treated like shit and killed more often than not. They look at us and people see animals. We’re saying our lives matter too. That whole #AllLivesMatter is just trying to cover up the issues.
Do I think racism will go away? Not in this lifetime. Hell, it happened back in Bible times when Miriam and Aaron were talking bad about Moses’ wife Zipporah because of her nationality and Moses had to pray to God to heal them after they were punished for it. So clearly it’s been happening for a long time. When God makes a paradise, things will be better. Moving forward, I would like for us to unify as a nation and just as humanity in general. Stop treating others of a different race or skin color (colorisim is real but that’s another blog for another day) like they’re inferior to you. It’s not the time to be divisive.
We need to make racism wrong again. It’s not about being weak or being too sensitive. It’s about loving each other and having respect for one another. It’s about standing up for what is right. Just because it’s not happening to you, don’t just be a bystander. Speak out. To be silent is to be complacent.
Don’t be quiet just because you don’t want to offend people. Imagine how the other person feels when they’re pouring out their feelings of hurt and pain just for others to just brush it off and not have any support. Make people uncomfortable when they talk shit about people from different races. Don’t brush it off as a joke. It’s hurtful and if they won’t do it or say it in front of the person, it’s not funny. Period. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s okay to not know what to say or do. If anything, just ask how you can be an ally. Also, know that what you see on TV or in movies is not the full representation of black people. We’re humans too. We hurt. We love. We’re doctors and lawyers and teachers. We come from different backgrounds and all walks of life. We love different music and food. Let’s learn from each other.
What will I do? Keep moving forward. I try very hard to get diverse books in my classroom because I believe that representation matters. I want to teach them (my students) to be an ally for each other, no matter the race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. It starts with one person. If I can help motivate them for change, then I’ve done my job as an educator. When I have kids, I’ll teach them to not buy into the stereotypes the media will try to portray them in. I will teach them to embrace both races (my kids will be mixed after all). I want to teach them what to look out for as they grow up to be productive members of society.
I personally don’t believe in rioting. I actually don’t go to protests. Its not that I don’t believe in protesting, I just rather use my voice in other ways. But I draw the line at rioting (this may piss people off). I don’t see why we have to burn things to the ground or destroy other people’s property. Steal things. I don’t believe in it and I don’t condone it. I do understand why they do it but I prefer a different method of change, I mean to each his own. Martin Luther King jr., was all about peaceful protest while Malcom X was more so on the violent end. They both had the common goal of equality, they just preferred different methods at getting it. Side note, Dr. King didn’t just die, he was killed. Murdered because people didn’t like his message of equality.
I’m tired y’all. I’m tired of people underestimating me. I’m tired of people looking at me like I’m a criminal or like I’m up to no good. I’m tired of people dismissing what I’ve been through or thinking very little of me. It breaks my heart. I’m afraid for my life. I’m really afraid. I want to cry. I’m angry. I’m just over all this bullshit.
“While we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one” – J.K. Rowling from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire