Being a black woman and working in urban education (Part 1)

When I first wanted to become a teacher I went to a orientation at my university for the Multiple Subject Credential program. All I wanted to do was get more information on the program and learn what I would need to do if I was to become a teacher in California. Well when I walked in, the majority of the room, about 80%, were middle age white women and the rest of the class was three black women including me, two black men, three middle eastern women, and five Latinas. Sadly I realized that the same orientation that I was taking part of reminded me of all the different classrooms that I had worked in. disappointed lhha

Ever since my first day of kindergarten I was in love with school. I don’t know what it was, but I was one of those kids that would cry at the end of the day because I had to leave school. I would love playing outside, the pet hamster that was named “Whiskers”, and even some of the schoolwork that we had to do in class. Yet times have changed since the 90’s and so has the educational system. Common Core has taken over the school system and teaching children as young as Pre-K “life skills” along with giving parents more headaches than relaxation. The “better off” school districts have more funding, which means that they won’t beg the state for educational funding compared to the “urban” areas that are always asking and never silenced. These are just some of the things that I have noticed since being apart of the educational system but in urban communities. That’s why I call it urban education. We are educating out future but there current circumstances maybe not the most promising.
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Being a black women I notice things when I am in a classroom with young black boys and girls that most teachers wouldn’t notice. I know that there is a need for more black male teachers. Yes, I said it, we need more black men in the schools. We need more Ethnic Studies classes taught in k-12 education. We need to be able to have discussions with the children, not just the older children, about issues that is currently effecting the United States. They need to know there TRUE African history and where they come from. How they come from a long line of kings as queens that ruled nations. They need to learn about the concept of social capital and the importance of creating there own legacy. And yet we wonder why our black children are acting the way they are acting in the educational system.black educators 2

It’s time for us as educators to be the ones to be the change and role models in the classroom along with being able to mold the young minds for the next generation of leaders.

Blue Ivy, Afros, and No Make Up: Stop Policing Black Women Beauty

My beauty is something that everyone that doesn’t have melanin wants. They would go tan, curl and crimp their hair, and even try every protective style in the book to look like me. Yet when we have children that are in South Africa protesting there right to wear the hair that God gave them and grown women from the black community are talking about Blue Ivy’s hair texture, we have a major problem.

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Alicia Keys decided to stop wearing make up and everyone thinks she weird for doing so and the sad thing is….she looks more natural than half of the women in the industry and younger as well! So whats wrong with the “No Make Up” movement but yet we are okay with the natural hair movement?

Why is it that a black women’s beauty considered a fashion trend? Why can’t we as a collective enjoy what the good Lord gave us? Let little black girls and teens have the chance to understand that their beauty is something that no one can take away from them. Let these young ladies see positive representations of what it really means to have “Black Girl Magic” and use there talents to affect there communities.

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I just want to say thank you to the young black girls that are in South Africa who are protesting for the right to wear there natural hair in school. They are really showcasing “Black Girl Magic”.

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All I can say is let black girls live! Let us live please! We come in all shape and sizes, colors and complexions, along with hair textures. Quit telling us we can’t be black when we are black. Stop saying our Box Braids, Kinky Twist, Afros, Curls, Coils, TWA, Weaves, and any hairstyle that we decide to wear isn’t considered to be beautiful and take that same style and call it a “trend”. Protective styling is not a trend! It’s a way for us to change up our hairstyles and make sure we “protect” out hair from the wear-and-tear of constant styling that our hair goes through. Let us enjoy who we are, let us support us. Empowerment comes from within, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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Representation is always going to matter, Black beauty matters!

 

Self Care, Self Love, and Personal Growth (What I Understand)

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I know when I was a teenager I was so ready to be an adult! I couldn’t wait to be in college and be on my own away from my crazy family life and a city that I felt that couldn’t offer me anything because I was “to old and mature”. I was ready to start something brand new and hopefully find something that was bigger than myself.Once I got out of my grandparents 3 bedroom house that was right smack dab in the middle of the hood, I realized that all the times they told me, “You think you grown, but you aint! You better be careful because life isn’t as easy as it seems….but your gonna see!”and they were actually right (Don’t tell them I said that!).Life as an adult is hard,stressful and also challenging but I feel that once you learn about self care,self love and personal growth it’s not as bad as it seems.

So I am going to share with you the things that I learned (SO FAR) about self care, self love, and personal growth:

  • Self Care: Life is going to stress you out, that is always going to happen. But fine the time to relax, because in the long run your health (mental,spiritual, and physical) will take a slow and damaging turn. I know for me I like to do my homework during the week and (hopefully) but the weekend I can light some candles, watch my favorite shows, and just sleep in. Also what I plan on doing is turning off social media and clocking out of the cyber world to mentally relax. I feel that we are in a day and age that everything we do is on social media and it’s too much! I hate it because everyone is on these outlets lying about stuff to impress the next person because they have something that they want. Ever heard of the term “Keep hating your going to turn green with envy”! I don’t have time to put on a show for no one and don’t get me wrong I do have my noisy moments but I don’t need to know every since part of your life.

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  • Self Love: I’m no expert on this but I know that enjoying and loving yourself will reflect on to other people and from there you’ll feel better about yourself. I have always been told that I have a bright personality and I feel that comes from feeling positive and letting my inner beauty shine out. I want to leave a positive impression on the people I meet because you never know how that may affect that person. I love to laugh and I know that sharing a laugh with someone might be the thing that they were needing at that moment. Also with the idea of self love, understanding that God made you the way you are! He knew what he was doing the whole time and he loves you just the way you are (ugh don’t get me crying and preaching please). Understand that you can’t be perfect and if you keep striving for it, your going to burn yourself out. It’s okay to cry and be sad if needed but don’t be that way for long. I know when I was suffering with depression, I lost the love for life and for myself, and it took a tole on me. So I had to fine the love within myself, and it’s still a thing I am still dealing with to this day so don’t think that self love isn’t a journey, because it is!

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  • Personal Growth: Now when I started college I was 18 (turning 19: I have an early birthday) and now I am 24 years old and I know that I have grown a lot since then! I know that by the time I get 30, I probably will not have the same mind state that I have now at 24. Changing and growing is apart of life, for example my hair may be any shade of red (right now it’s burgundy) but maybe by 30 it will be a short cut that is just how life changes up on us! Learning from the mistakes as well as learning from the blessings that God gives you will help you along your journey in life. Not everyone will be on this personal journey, friends may slowly move out of the picture, boyfriend/girlfriend may or may not be growing with you, career may change, you never know where life could take you. But hell enjoy the ride and eat the snacks (knowledge) that are provided!

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Remember that life is never going to be easy because if it was then we would all have perfect lives. But taking the time to give yourself a mental break will make it a little easier to deal with and more understanding. Never be afraid to meditate, pray,relax, and give yourself time to reflect on the things that you have been through. It’s okay to be emotional and cry, believe me I have done it a lot lately! Now go out there and take on the world, but in baby steps lol

Cultural Appropriation #1: The Box Braids Debate

 

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I was once asked on tumblr a question from a white (or not person of African decent) a question about a topic that I had a strong issue with. Looking in my inbox this person asked, “How do you feel when you see white women, or other women who aren’t black, wearing box braids? Does this make it cultural appropriation?”.  At first, I was stuck on this question, and I thank this person for asking this question. I know people wear Native American, Latino, Middle Easter, and various Asian costumes during Halloween, along with many white fraternities and sororities wearing blackface with “Kanye Western” or “Compton Cookout” party themes. People have spoke out about this issue saying that this is “cultural appropriation”. For some who don’t know this term, this usually means another non ethnic culture, usually the oppressor, taking various different elements of the oppressed culture, and making it usually relate or reinforce negative stereotypes for example,the concept of blackface.

Now as black women, we have this magical gift of changing our hair to whatever we want it to be. And one of the most common is Box Braids, a type of hairstyle statement that has been around since ancient Africa and variations can be seen in different parts. Now that this style is making a comeback, being phased as “Poetic Justice Braids” or “Patra Braids”, every black women has rocked a pair of box braids with little gold or wood beads either shoulder length or all the way down their back. But now this simple hairstyle has became a fashion trend among mainstream media. Once non-women of color put this style in their hair, they may start to feel their attitude changing, including their walk, speech might become different, and then finally they become this “alter ego” of a “black woman”, ready to take on the world with plenty of neck rolling and hair flips. Yet, this can be seen negatively as cultural appropriation and usually can be brushed off by the media and fashion industry as “white girls being cute and on a curve of a fashion trend”.

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My answer to this question was this, yes this is considered cultural appropriation. No matter how you feel about it, mainstream media along with the fashion industry really haven’t been recognizing black women for the many fashion trends that we helped create and make popular. Go ahead and wear box braids if you want to, but don’t be surprised if I laugh at you in the process!

What grinds my gears #1: the concept of “White Student Unions”

 

cultural appropration 1Now I am only going to write about this one time and one time only. Over the last couple of weeks there has been a outcry from many students of color on PWI campuses (which for some of you who don’t know, these are private/public white institutions). There has been an issue with safety on campus, requesting more professors and staff of color, and even more classes on racial diversity. My issue is, If we don’t feel safe and have been saying that then someone in the administration has been doing one of two things, 1.) hears the concerns of students but because of funding (either federal or state) doesn’t want to address the issue or want to care, or 2.) has seen the issue and concern of students, wants to help address the issue, but yet because of politics going on in the administration, can’t do anything about it!

That’s why on campus we establish organizations like Black Student Union, African Student Association, The Divine Nine (which are the nine predominately African American fraternities and sororities), and other academic clubs on campus to bring awareness as well as a community on campus for the representation of the Pan-African diaspora on campuses all over the nation. These clubs give black students a chance to come together and find a community within a bigger community that most of the time doesn’t except us. These organizations are our safe spaces, places where we can go and vent out our frustrations, issues, and concerns being students of color. We build our own social networks within each other by asking about classes that people have taken, events going on campus, and even finding people to study with or even hang out with.

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So when I found out that these same universities are creating “White Student Unions” for white students to gain solidarity and feel like the have a community on campus, I felt really baffled and confused. The majority of the white students on these campuses have social capital (what this means is either social or economic benefits that come from preferential treatment and/or cooperation between individuals or a group). They can sit in a class and see someone that looks like them, they can join various organizations and not have an issue with membership because they either know someone or have the financial gain, and by the time they graduate college they might be able to earn a career because they have gained enough social capital that they can walk into a career. Now not all white people have this but the majority do. I feel like this is another way of cultural appropriation to be honest. As black students, we have to work twice as hard and also deal with being in places of higher education.

Do I agree with the concept of “White Student Unions”? Nope I don’t, and I don’t think I ever will.Do I agree that the “White Student Union” is needed? Hell no! I feel that it’s just another attempt for white students to cry out white tears about an issue that they can’t understand nor will they ever understand. They have there own organizations and things to make them feel like they belong as students. And to be honest, the idea of “a few rotten apples can spoil the bunch” totally applies when it comes to the attempt to create “White Student Unions”.

707f6dec487b64c79d5b6ec07a867c6e at least you tried