This resonates with me: “Some black people will not encounter police brutality, but we will encounter white people in other spaces that weren’t initially created for us”. I’ve been teaching for almost twenty years. There’s no denying that I’m good at what I do. In fact, my classroom was chosen as a model for newer and older teachers to observe and learn from. Unfortunately, one of my colleagues chose to undermine and disrespect me during a collaborative meeting between our school and a visiting one. I didn’t let her know that what she did was wrong at that time; however, during an evening meeting that same day I told her calmly and discretely (in the hallway outside of the meeting room) that her behavior was disrespectful and unprofessional. You see, she thought it was okay to bring up a student’s and parent’s name during this meeting, which had nothing to do with the task at hand This was a privacy breech. She “apologized” by saying, “I’m sorry that you feel that way”. I took that for what it was worth and didn’t bring it up to our supervisor. I considered this a team player move; after all, I was her mentor and hoped that she would learn. Later on that year during my evaluations, our supervisor told me that I was being rude and argumentative with a fellow teacher (the same young girl). Flabbergasted, I asked her how can this be and explained to her the history behind this false accusation. To make this long story much shorter, I’m tired of the idea that black people are “threatening”. I often think it is a false narrative used to mask something insidious.
I began a tenure-track position at a Research I university August 2013, a month after Trayvon Martin’s murderer was acquitted. Our academic year began in one of the university’s ballrooms with announcements of new faculty, food, and light banter. I was the only black face at our round table. I’d grown used to being the only, but this felt different. I remember chit-chatting about inconsequential topics so minor that I cannot recall the slightest detail.
I remember wondering if I should ask any of these white faces what they thought about Martin’s death or his killer’s acquittal. After all, we were scholars. I remember wondering if this incident mattered to them at all, not in a Black Lives Matter way, but in a we live in the state of Florida and this just happened in Florida type of way.
Instead, I remained silent, returned to my office, and prepared…
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