I finally got the balls (metaphorical, anyway) to ask the top muckity-mucks in my district about the possibility of having me as an Equity/Diversity Coordinator. I told them that it seems odd to me that we’re a large district without an equity department, or even a single equity coordinator/diversity director/person who makes sure people aren’t wholly ignorant.
I tried to sell the idea as best I could. Ever since I knew that Equity Coordinator was a thing, I’ve wanted to be one. I’ve taken classes. I’ve been in workshops. I’ve eaten stale bagels and sipped terrible coffee that eroded my teeth so I could network and learn more about being one. I even cornered my ex-Superintendent at a networking event (I never do this) and ran my idea by him. He responded positively, saying that my district seemed “ready” to move in that direction.
I even practiced my spiel in the shower.
When I brought it up to the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, she told me that she didn’t think “we had the numbers” to warrant an Equity Coordinator.
Uh. Excuse me? The outside me nodded, while the inside me said something like, “I’m sorry, but do we or don’t we have brown and black kids at our schools? Do we not have LGBTQ students at our schools? Last time I checked, we had at least some kids who could fill in the “marginalized” bubble. Even one student should warrant this position.”
As I was nodding and trying to think of a more professional way to say the aforementioned inside me statement, the Director added, “plus, we have a pretty expensive contract with Mel Gibson (obviously, not his real name, but I have to get my ironic laughs where I can). He’s kind of filling the role of an Equity Coordinator at the moment.”
Now, I’ve met Mel. I’ve actually worked with him a lot. He has worked for decades to be an advocate and help people understand the need for equity. Mel has his own consulting business that helps corporations and school districts deal with having people of color or other marginalized groups in their midst. He also teaches in about three different universities. He’s ridiculously well-qualified. He’s also a super kind, gentle guy.
As nice and qualified as he may be, he’s not always around. Not every day. Not for those little equity issues that spring up between students, between teachers, between administrators, or a mix of any of those. He wasn’t around to hear our choir teacher cry last year because students and other teacher had said homophobic things to him. He wasn’t around when I had a student say that all Mexicans should be killed because they are worthless. Essentially, he’s there for the major meetings where everyone is on their best behavior because my district likes to hide its subtly racist, homophobic, white and privileged underbelly.
He doesn’t see that, and honestly, when his contract is over, Mel will head out on his merry way, signing more expensive contracts with other school districts and fancy companies. I have a vested interest in this district because if I don’t help make change happen, I’m going to lose my mind.
What’s sort of infuriating is that I’ve even told him about my wishes to be an Equity Coordinator, and he’s been nothing but supportive. He’s told me about more workshops and retreats that I should do to learn even more. He’s said that he’d put a good word for me when it came time to pursue my doctorate.He agreed that our district was in need of someone like me.
Apparently, they think they need someone like him. I hate thinking that because he’s white, other Vanilla Lattes don’t mind him saying that they are being racist/sexist/homophobic. Maybe it sounds more threatening coming from a person of color. I don’t know. I don’t know how long this contract will last. I do know I’ll be miles away from my dream job until then, and that is making me so angry I can barely see straight.
Sigh. Look, I know it’s not his fault. I doubt he’s even aware that he’s filling in a role that I’ve been longing for ever since I started in this district.
Funnily enough, in my conversation with the Director of Curriculum, she basically offered me the position of Dual Language Program coordinator, as we have one dual-language program and no one really overseeing it.
She said that I’d be perfect for the role, not considering that the last time I taught a dual-language class was in my student teaching days, and we all know that student teaching is just an exercise in managing panic and chaos. I can’t help but think that she believes I’m perfect because I happen to have my ESL endorsement and I speak Spanish. The Latina as a dual-language/ESL coordinator. How original. How clever.
So what are my choices? If I tell Mel Gibson that he has essentially, if not directly, taken my job, I doubt he will immediately call the district and demand they give it to me. I mean, Mel has a family to support as well, and walking away from a very expensive contract would be stupid.
If I reject the offer of Dual-Language Coordinator, I find myself back behind my teacher desk, frustrated, fending off microaggressions day in and day out, and still not where I want to be.
What can I do? I feel like all of my options suck. Like in preschool, when my snack options were tapioca pudding or celery with peanut butter.
Back then, I chose to just skip snack and be hungry. This time, either choice leaves me hungry for the dream job that could’ve been.