by Bianca Adger
I sit in an old art room on top of a table staring back at all the little beautiful brown faces that depend on me to be their person. They are loud and happy and all talking over each other. “I feel like every time we talk about something that deals with black people, all of the white kids turn around and look at me,” one of them is saying. They are speaking my truth! Whenever I’m in a faculty meeting, I feel like all the white eyes turn and look at me whenever something comes up about race.
Today we are talking about a book. They explain how their teacher tells the class that the N-word is in the book, but they will skip over it and not say it. “They don’t even know what that word means to us,” one yells over the banter. I ask questions to try to unpack their feelings. I try to soothe the racial tension they feel sitting in a predominantly White institution constantly surrounded by whiteness, constantly code-switching, and constantly feeling unsafe in the space.
Any time they bring their true authentic selves to school, someone calls them aggressive so they try their hardest not to bring themselves to school. Instead a shadow of them shows up.
BE LOUD with who you are!
Question: “Did they explain why they’re not saying the N-word.”
Question: “Did they explain where the “N” word comes from and why it is hurtful to Black people?”
Question: “Do you feel safe”
Being Black does not equal AGGRESSION.
I change my hair like I change my clothes and YES, ITS MINE…. I paid for it
NO, I AM NOT the encyclopedia of all things Black because I rock locs, have Black skin, and call you out.
I mean, call you in!
THANK GOD for the BSU
In our space, loud doesn’t equate to aggression, it equates to joy… BLACK JOY
And we celebrate how our crowns change with a whim, basking in our own versatility radiating in our own glory
In our space, we are unapologetically Black
we are Blacky Black BLAck
In our space, we know our worth.
We dance in the spirit of our ancestors
we are because they were
We take pride in the realization that we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams
SEE our Blackness
OUR story didn’t start with the “N” word
And it won’t end with it either
I am their person because they need someone to hold their weight
I am their person because they need someone to lift their chin
I am their person because they need someone to fix their crown
I am black like the radiant ocean floor
We are black like the deep old earth
We fill space and time with
we are Blacky Black BLAck
We are the lunar eclipse in the middle of the day that no one saw coming for a hundred years
We are the dew on the highest leaf in the densest forest on the oldest tree
We are love
We are Black love
We are joy when the soul rediscovers it
We are our ancestors moving through space and time reclaiming all that was lost
We are here
This blog post is part of the #31DaysIBPOC Blog Series, a month-long movement to feature the voices of indigenous and teachers of color as writers and scholars. Please CLICK HERE to read yesterday’s blog post by Nawal Qarooni (and be sure to check out the link at the end of each post to catch up on the rest of the blog series).