This month has been tough, guys. First week in was the Equity Retreat Disaster of 2017, and it has just continued in a downward trend ever since.
The more that happens, the more I want to reach out to people and vent. The more I try to do that, the more I realize how alone I am here at this school.
It’s not that people haven’t tried to be helpful. They have, but their lack of understanding shows when they say things like:
- “You know, Uber Vanilla Latte VP just doesn’t understand. You have to give her some time.”
- “Maybe she said she was scared, but what she meant was that you’re a strong individual. That can be intimidating.”
- “I get that what she said was tough, but she’s new to all of this and you just need to have more compassion for those who aren’t as far along in the work.”
As if all of this could have somehow been avoided. If I had just been more quiet and demure. If I had just been more compassionate when someone accuses me of being a threat with zero evidence.
What they don’t get, is that by asking me to do that, they are completely playing into this whole ridiculous system. It’s a form of victim shaming.
The message is this: If I were different somehow, in the way I talk or walk or present myself, this wouldn’t have happened.
This realization hit me over the weekend, and I felt such a pang of loneliness. A longing for someone to understand that, to ask a person of color to change who they for another group so they feel more comfortable is totally, completely, wrong.
I wanted someone who would listen to me and say, “holy shit, your VP needs to be woke. And like, yesterday!”
Alas, I work in Vanilla Latte Land, and allies are hard to come by. I have friends, sure. But when I shed a few angry tears at the fact that my VP has somehow appropriated Spanish Club from another teacher, and is taking them to the Cinco de Mayo celebration to celebrate what she thinks is Mexico’s Independence Day (I wish I was making this up) they get spooked.
“She’s just silly,” one of my colleagues said.
“No, she’s ignorant and racist,” I replied.
My colleague’s eyes widened. I’d said the dreaded “r-word.” “But at least she’s taking them, right? That’s not racist. I think that’s going a little far.”
*Cue silent scream*
I wanted that colleague to jump up from her seat, her sensible heels kicking the chair in disgust. “WHAT?!” she would declare. “Oh, no! I am going to talk to her! This is not right!”
Instead, we just both went back to our sandwiches. Mine tasted like cardboard.
I feel like I’m wandering the halls of my school, always seething lately, and just looking for that one person to give me some silent signal. A nod, or a quick smile, or hell, I’ll even take the three-fingered salute from The Hunger Games.
I just need someone who gets it. Who gets it on my level. Who will cringe when I say that my boss isn’t losing any sleep or feels any remorse at the fact that she completely slandered me by saying I’m aggressive and scary. I know that I would if someone said that it had happened to them.
It’s in moments like this that it all just feels so lonely. And exhausting. I don’t totally know how to make it better.
I could go to my therapist again. But she’s white.
I could talk to my parents, but they also have trouble grasping the idea that I would not feel welcome at my job just because someone said I was scary. Their identities were formed and iron clad long before they came to the US. They haven’t had to fight so hard to not internalize the messages I’ve heard.
For the millionth time, I wish I had a sibling who had grown up here with me.
Today, I feel like an island. I am hoping I can gather some mental strength in the weeks to come. I may take a personal day to sit at home and fix up my armor the best I can (Cadbury Mini Eggs may make an appearance.).
The hope is that while today I may feel like an island, soon I can feel like a fortress.