Hello! First of all, this is not a blog about coffee. While I respect coffee very much and often refer to it as, “the nectar of the gods,” as I greedily gulp it down before class starts, I’m not sure I could write much about it.
I am here, however, to write about being a teacher of color (TOC for short; us educators love a good acronym) who works in a very, very white, upper-middle class suburban school. Only about 27% of my students are of color, and for many of my students, white or otherwise, I am the very first teacher they’ve had that isn’t white. In my first year at this school, a student pointed at the small Mexican flag on my bulletin board and asked, “why do you have that?”
“Because I am Mexican. I was born there,” I replied, in the way one would say, “I have an umbrella because it’s raining. It’s to keep me from getting wet.”
And yet, this student’s eyes got wide and he said, “You were? You’re Mexican? But you’re a teacher.”
That’s when it hit me. A Hispanic woman being their teacher was about as unfathomable as a yak becoming an astronaut and flying off into space (this visual, however, is highly entertaining. How big would its helmet be?) and I would have to prove myself, and not just to my students. Something clicked and I suddenly felt incredibly alone. Almost like I had just been shot out into space and now, every step I made had to prove my ability as an educator and make a step in the right direction for future teachers of color. Oh, and make sure that my students actually learned something.
Three years later, and I’m pretty sure my students have learned stuff, which is excellent. But I’ve also learned a lot. Oh man, I’ve learned so much, and I need to share what it’s like to a be a single drop of mocha in a sea of vanilla lattes.
This is my journey, so far. These are my stories.