Yeah. Let’s Talk About That, Shall We?


I have been debating posting this for a day or two now, finding myself pretty sure that, if I did post it, that there would be backlash from probably more than one corner and I might even ostracize myself. But a friend posted something lit that fire in my gut again and I found my decision had been made. So, here we go.

Warning: this is rant so…yeah. It might contain some stronger language than I usual use and might make you angry. It might embarrass you. You are under no obligation to read it. You’ve been warned.

On Saturday Night Live this past weekend, they put on their “28 Reasons” sketch in honor (and I use that term VERY loosely) of Black History Month. In the sketch, the teacher of a class announces that it is Black History Month and then calls on the only three black students in the entire class to make their presentation. I know it was a joke and meant to be funny, but all it did was make me angry and insulted. I am deeply insulted at the even comedic use of slavery as an excuse for deference, advancement, etc. I do not believe in making people feel guilty for something that their ancestors may have done but has nothing to do with them today in 2014. I am the daughter of two Caribbean parents, so the likelihood of my ancestors being slaves is probably pretty strong. But I refuse to carry the grudge of anger, injustice, and chains that have never been mine, not even jokingly. It’s wrong and just as insensitive and wrong as the jerk over there making jokes about people, ANY people.

Years ago, one of my family members pointed out, while I was in college, that most of my friends were white. My reply to her question of, “Do you see anything wrong with this picture?” as she held up a photo of my friends and I was, “Nope, not a thing.” Let’s be totally honest here! Not a damn thing was wrong with that picture!

You might not hear this very often but it’s the truth: I am a black woman of privilege. I see myself as privileged in that I had my bachelor’s and master’s degrees under my belt by the age of 23, funded by scholarships that I applied for and earned based on my academics, not my skin color. I am privileged in that I had the opportunity to spend 6 wonderful years with my husband, living, working, and loving together as we learned how to be together. I am privileged in that we own our own home and that we are comfortable enough so that I have been able to stay home with my thirteen-month-old daughter since she was born. I am privileged in that I can go to the store and buy what I need when I need it, without worrying how I am going to pay for it. I am privileged in that I have the support of close family and friends. I am privileged in that I get to sit here and blog and share my experiences, heart, and mind, with whatever corners of the world choose to read it.

I hate generalizations. I hate accusations. I hate a sense of entitlement, that you should be treated differently or kowtowed to because “they should be damned sorry for what their family did” or whatever. Call me disloyal, call me an oreo or whatever you want, I don’t care. IT IS NOT RIGHT! I am not going to sit here and say that prejudice and racism do not exist; I would be a foolish, blind woman to believe or say so. Racism/prejudice/injustice exists, sure as the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. People earn less in jobs/careers, have lower positions, and are disrespected outright without cause, because of the color of their skin (white people included), but can also be so because of their religions, their sexual orientations, and their educations or lack thereof regardless of their talent or skill. I acknowledge it, I work against it as best I can in my community of life, but I refuse to live my live defined by it. How can I show love if I am always angry? How can I encourage others if I am always screaming? My loved ones are my loved ones, not colors or orientations or religions.  I was raised to be a person, not a color. And I will raise my daughter to be a person, not a color. I will raise her to love her fellow man, regardless of what is on the outside. I want her to be a girl and then a woman who looks at the hearts of those she meets and shows them hers. I want her to be strong in herself and her beliefs, but I do not want to raise her in anger or fear or hate. She was conceived in love, born into love, and I want her to live in love.

To circle this around to my original rant. Even when issues of hatred, resentment, and, yes, racism are played out as jokes, the idea that they are giving levity to the situation, it’s not funny. At least it’s not to me. I cannot tell you how often I have had to correct 8th grade students because they said things that they heard on shows like SNL and Tosh 2.0, thinking that they were funny but just came off as offensive and insulting. It’s a bad message to send, in my opinion. 

*sighs and climbs down from my soapbox* I think I was all over the place, but I think I am done.

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May 28, 2011 – Salt in a Wound


In a time when being a teacher in Indiana is coming to mean less than nothing, I find myself upset and rather hurt that this movie is coming out in a month. Why not make teachers look even worse by having one portrayed by Cameron Diaz who was “doing it for all the right reasons. Shorter hours, summers off, no accountability”. I don’t really care of it’s some kind of redemption story for Diaz’s character. The fact that they portray a teacher that way makes me incredibly angry and embarrassed, and it truly does feel like salt in what is becoming a very raw wound.

Teachers are being told that their years of service don’t matter, that they have not earned their positions. We are being told that students need to be tested more. We are told what to teach, when to teach it, when to test them. Our pay is being locked without even cost of living considerations.

It just…hurts to know that teachers try and work and give and…apparently that doesn’t matter. Even Hollywood thinks we’re worthless.

So…thanks. Thanks so much.

September 9, 2010 – Hatred of Once-Love


Copied from a quick scribble before school this morning

Last night, I was woken from a weary just-fallen-asleep by the cat knocking the lint roller from the bathroom counters and I found myself in the saddest of moods. A realization had settled upon once again and it set me to weeping into my pillow.

I am becoming a robot.

Once upon a time, I swore to never teach just to the test, but it is now what is required of me. My students are tied to the textbook in order to pass the Benchmark assessments required by RtI. I find myself so despondent and beaten down over this that I have no desire, no energy to try to make it “fun and exciting” beyond the occasional Jeopardy review game. And that hurts. A lot!

All I could think of as I cried was Juliet’s wail, “Proud can I never be of what I hate!” How can  I be proud to be a teacher when I hate what and how I have to teach? The more I think about it, the sicker I become at the realization that, for the most part, I hate teaching now. I am good, very good, at what I do. But, in truth, it’s not my first love. The literature is the thing for me. If I could simply discuss books all day long, I would be – as Anne Boleyn proclaimed – the most happy. I could probably figure out a way to achieve goals through simple book discussion and socractic seminar, as others have surely done before me, but the powers that be would never heard of me ditching their textbook and standards. It’s like I can no longer see the forest for the trees and so I think the time is coming for me to cut my way out of the jungle. I can tell I’m getting upset because my handwriting is becoming illegible so I’ll stop here.

Bombardment – 8/22/2010


Author’s note: First off, I do not want anyone to think that this is directed at them or that I’m calling anyone out or trying to convert anyone. I’m not. I was sitting in church today and this poured out into my notebook. I’m posting it here because I want to be honest with my emotions with my friends and not start bottling them up and hiding them away like I used to. I’m not fishing for compliments either.

Also, understand that some of these things I may and others I may not be up to talking about. Not to be mean, just a forewarning. I love you all and I appreciate the time you take to read my ramblings and the prayers and good thoughts you have for me.

Mel

= = = = =

I’m sitting here in church and I feel small and alone, as though I do not deserve to be here. That I have been stupid and faithless and God had turned from me because of it. Things have been hard, yes, but I know that we are still so much better off than many others. I just feel like I have been very silly lately, handling things wrongly and worrying and fussing and not thinking.

I miss my friends, their love, their encouragement, their honesty, their hugs, prayers, and even their tears (when they shed them with me). I sang a song in church this morning and it reminded me sharply of being SCF (Student Christian Fellowship) in college, surrounded by friends who love me and love God. Things were not totally easy by any stretch of the imagination for all of us but I remember what those relationships felt like, what that love between friends was like, what that closeness was like. I miss it – and them – terribly. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Ben and love having him near, as well as those friends that I have made and am still making here. But I still get lonely. I feel alone. My latest attempt at making new close friends crashed and burned badly, and I really feel that I have made things very difficult for both Ben and I because of it.  And now the depression and pessimism with teaching and not knowing why…also hard and bringing me down mentally and emotionally. What have I done? Or what am I not seeing?

I burst into tears in front of a fellow teacher this week and also did so here in church because I have no idea of where to go, what to do, or what to think. I don’t want to think about how wonderful Heaven might be some day. I want to know how to deal with and get through the next week. With students and house cleaning and grading and bills and everything else. I’ve failed at my quiet times and re-centering myself at the end of the day, too, which should have been relatively simple.

I know. I’m a wreck. I am all over the place. I can’t settle. I can’t fully relax. I just…feel frayed and knotted and I don’t know how to get untangled. I know don’t what to pray for, though I try to give thanks that things are still – in the grand scheme – quite good for us. I am just sort of…here. I am lonely, discouraged, and I want to be better. But how?