Let me just start this blog by stating outright that most of these micro-aggressions are unintended to send me home in resentment and bitterness. Most of these micro-aggressions are laughed away, or taken care of by a private eye-roll. People almost always mean well. For some reason, when a micro-aggression is used against me, I’m pretty okay with it. I feel that twinge of annoyance, but I know where I come from. I fought and continue to fight to hang on to my Latina roots, and if that means tolerating a few demeaning comments every now and again, let’s do this.
But something changed in me this month that I would like to share with you.
If you look at my classroom compared to the other four kindergarten rooms, I, by far, have the most brown kids. I feel passionately about developing bilingual and bicultural students, so when we sort classes in the summer, I get to know the families beforehand and adopt the families who want those skills to be honed in their children. The relationships that have come from this have been truly memorable. Another #WhyITeach, for sure. Families who might otherwise have not been engaged in school have the opportunity, for one sweet kindergarten year, to volunteer and learn alongside their students, without the fear of a language barrier. I paint this picture for you because my class does stand out, despite all the other diversity happening in classrooms across our school. If the color of our skin doesn’t grab your attention, the loud cries of “vamos!” and “rapido!” certainly will. I am in love with my class and with all the learning we are doing, but it has come to my attention that not everyone feels the same way.
The following are the micro-aggressions, not meant to hurt, that my class experienced this month. Here are the micro-aggressions, not meant to send me home in anger, that I stewed on for days and days and days. Here are the micro-aggressions that have caused me to say NO MORE. We’re NOT doing this. This is NOT what I am fighting for when I cling to all the things that make me who I am. My desire for diplomacy has diminished in the light of these relentless words that follow me down hallways, through the doors, and into the safe space that is my classroom.
This was our October. And although my little nuggets don’t understand when adults say these things in front of them, I certainly do. Every other day in my life, I have been satisfied to shake my head and teach another day, but after that last comment, I cracked. (I mean, we might be a little more brown, but everyone in my class is an American.) I decided to put my big girl pants on and seek to have a REAL conversation with a colleague about my discomfort with her language. The fire in my heart was instantly quelled as she apologized profusely and admitted she didn’t hear those words with the same filter I do. It was a difficult conversation to initiate, but I am so glad I did. I only wish I had been brave enough to address all of these comments.
My intention with this post is to generate some self-reflection.
What can we do to build bridges with our staff in order to HAVE these sticky conversations?
How can we become more self-aware about micro-aggressions and other forms of racism that slip into our everyday language?
How can we make our buildings a safe space for students as well as STAFF to voice their concerns? To voice their hurts?
What kind of language can we set up for our communities so that we can continue down the long, winding road towards equity?
My dog also has an Instagram, and it's better than anyone's. @mrdarcy_theiggy
Latest posts by Jill Escalera (see all)
- Learning While Brown: Educators of Color Leadership - October 2, 2017
- Making Every Effort - September 3, 2017
- Kindergartners CAN! - June 5, 2017