love, life, and the pursuit of liberation
i don’t know what my problem is and i’m not usually emotional like this (cryin for no reason) but i just feel down. real down. i don’t know if it’s b/c i miss my baby or what, but i’ve been tearing up all day today for no apparent reason.
i went to the IB training and it was pretty good, though scattered. got me excited about teaching kids who are thirsty for knowledge, even if they express it in their usual, antagonistic, nonchalant, adolescent way. i know the truth- they all want hugs.
then lunch came and i swear i was confronted with all sorts of demons i had conveniently forgotten about. the school i’m moving to next year (same district) is majority black. no problem- i’m black, come from a black family, and have always taught in a black school. however, i’m different. though i’ve always grown up in a black/hispanic, poor city, i’ve ALWAYS gone to white schools; been one of the “only ones” and sat at the “black table.” bear with me. i’m going somewhere with this. as a consequence, i’ve always straddled all the identity lines- even wrote my college senior thesis about it. however, i freeze and get nervous when i am suddenly around all-black female environments, especially in california and the south. i feel all that anxiety of not being “black” enough– i’m not straight, i don’t straighten my hair, i don’t have children, i am not christian, i do not hang on the “black” side of town. i’m so not everything that seems to be commonly black. and they know. and i feel like an outsider. somehow, it doesn’t matter to me when i’m the outsider around all whites/other people of color, or when i’m the only person who XYZ because, as rude as it seems, i don’t care what they think of me! there’s no vested interest. if i get along with folks, GREAT! if they see me as different, did i expect anything different? [this isn’t coming out the way that i feel]. but somehow with all black female circles, i feel like i did when i was growing up and going to church– smiling and trying to be “down” but not knowing i was so different.
and it’s not even that other black women aren’t accepting of me! they smile and are polite and are not “ghetto” by any means. but i feel like i’m constantly on the fringe– i don’t know the latest fashion, code, or anything.
interestingly, i didn’t/don’t have this problem in nyc or nj where i spent the past 11 years (perhaps that’s why i stayed). after talking about it with my wife, i realize it’s because the majority of black folks (or so it seems) in nyc have some other facet to their identity– having caribbean or african families, or simply being surrounded intimately by so many other kinds of people.
i haven’t felt this anxiety in a looooong time. probably not since highschool in the early 90s. but here it is and i’m getting nervous about teaching at the school next year. i hate feeling so much like an outsider in my heart and in ways that matter.