I was meant to add my #IamRemarkable tweet today. Instead I am in a reflective mood. I decided to write down how I feel as a black teacher. I remembered how I felt being at school and why I got into teaching.
Do you know what its like to wake up as a black teacher?
Do you know what its like everyday to wake up to judgement?
Do you know what its like to feel oppressed for years and not get anywhere?
Let me tell you what it’s like being a black teacher.
I wake up everyday and pray for my loved ones. I don’t know when I’ll see them again.
Everyday we live with some form of fear.
Being stopped and harassed is only because I’m black or I have a new car.
I live in a system where everyday we show and tell our kids within the curriculum that being black is nothing. Yet, we come from Kings and Queens before we were enslaved to be shipped to a land that was never our own.
My first racist encounter was at primary school. Too young to understand that being called a monkey was not right, telling people you’re an African was something to be ashamed of. Or how about go back to where you come from?
All of these encounters, yet they are brushed off. White teachers who see just a black face. A black face that doesn’t fit in the privileged Westminster borough.
I was taught from an early age from my parents that Sir Martin Luther King’s dream was for us to unite and live in peace. Sir Malcom X gave us the confidence to say it with chest. Sir Marcus Garvey wanted us to belong in what we call home. Sir Barack Obama told us yes we can.
32 years of my life and I’m still fighting.
This time I’m fighting as a black teacher to show my worth. Fighting to get what I deserve. Fighting because I’m black and that’s a fact. Fighting because I want to be heard and not just seen.
We were taught to steal, rob and borrow as slaves. Yet all of our lives are filled with sorrow. Why?
We’ve fought for education.
We’ve fought to have the same equal rights as our white peers.
We’ve fought to have peace.
Is that too much to ask for?
What does it mean to be a black teacher?
You will never know. You will never face the amount of racism that one will face.
Having your colour compared to a disability. Having to always work 10 times harder just to have the new person that was here 5 minutes become your line manager.
You can never compare it to any pain. You try to remain numb when you hear Black History Month again because nobody approaches you for your input or ideas.
Or how about being in the staff room and always being asked about Jelloff Rice, Jerk Chicken and what’s the difference between rice n peas? Can you twerk? What’s a weave? Is that your real hair?
All the questions that in your head you want to scream. In your head you know you’re being judged within. She’s the angry black woman.
You can never walk in my shoes.
You can never understand what it’s like to be the black teacher.
You will never know what it’s like to have the doors closed in your face over and over again because of who I am.
A black teacher.