They Stopped Me

They stopped me.

I walked into my colleagues office first thing in the morning just to role play. It’s crazy how I’m 7 years into my profession and I have to role play because as a black woman from the South Bronx, I may come across as too forward, ghetto or as the ANGRY BLACK woman.

The whole situation kept me up last night; I was thinking about the comment my principal said to one of my students and I just couldn’t let up on it.

I had to speak up. I had to speak up for MY people.

I formulated a question to initiate the conversation “what did you mean when you said…”

My colleague gave me push back, but in the end told me that the conversation came off as polite but concerned and not as the angry black woman. I was pleased and ready to have this necessary conversation, until I was stopped in the hallway and told “no.”

“Now, is not the time”. My colleague had stopped me after realizing that the conversation I was about to have would be with my principal. I had left that part out, but somehow it clicked and she had to stop me.
“When would it be the right time?, I asked” “we’ll make a time.” Which is complete bull shit. I appreciate that they are trying to protect me from becoming a target for speaking up but how am I not to speak up when I encourage my mentees and students to advocate for themselves each day.
When there is an injustice don’t talk about it, but be about it.

A teacher stopped me in the hallway in the middle of the day to say that my student shared her experience from the night before during a class discussion.

They stopped me, but they dare not stop her.

I don’t have to speak for her because she has the skills to advocate for herself.

This is why it’s important to teach self-advocacy and social justice beginning at an early age. There is no reason why in this society our youth shouldn’t have a voice or the opportunity to be heard.

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