Last week was a busy week.
I got to know my new 6th grade students just well enough to see that they will challenge the ways I approach and talk to young people, especially when they aren't acting "right." My newest and youngest students can decode words, comprehend texts and structure their writing at levels much higher than their 7th and 8th grade counterparts. But they are more
defiant resistant to routines and don't possess the same upbeat attitudes as my older students. While I pour my energy into finding ways to help my 7th and 8th graders become more fluent readers, I am going to have to find ways to get my 6th graders acclimated to my expectations and standards (stop talking nonsense to each other and speak up, participate in discussion, contribute to the conversation, say something, anything dammit!)
I was delighted to see my 7th graders again. And you know what? They were happy to see me! I love them. They make me laugh. They can do no wrong in my eyes, which causes problems. I had to keep reminding myself that chatting with them about summer, school uniforms, "no homo", being vegetarian, the upcoming elections, Lil' Wayne, and bullying may help build their character and improve their conversation and critical thinking skills, but it will not make them better readers or writers.
I tend to keep my mouth shut when speaking on the representation of Black women as images of beauty because the margins are so narrow and there are better things to do than wait around for other people to widen them. But I just got fed up about the Vogue Italia hoopla. I posted a comment at Afrobella, which ended up triggering another post, which is kinda cool.
How we view ourselves has such an immense impact on how we function in this world; we are doing ourselves a major disservice by asking mainstream media to validate our beauty. Fuck that.
I just want us (women of color) to create our own standards. Seeing ourselves as beautiful trumps some Italian editor deciding we're worthy of a cover). We need to speak on it. Not just on blogs or among friends. But all the time. In the street. At the deli. In the park. Wherever. It may seem trivial, but you never know who may need to hear those words or how those words may positively transform someone's self-image.
At the beginning of August, M & I were sitting outside of the Brooklyn Museum of Art watching all the lovely people pass by and we started talking about how we may comment to each other how elegant or fly a woman looks but we rarely share the compliment with that woman. What is preventing us from saying, "You look great" or at least smiling? What are we afraid of exactly? Is it a New York thing? Is it a woman thing? Is it an envy thing? Shit, is it a homophobic thing? Is it just me? I was reminded of this reading a comment on Afrobella a few days ago, and then again yesterday at a restaurant in Harlem. I walked in with a friend and this younger girl comes up to me and says, "I really love your hair like that." I had to ask her if she was talking to me and then I wanted to hug her. Not for the compliment itself, but for her decision to fearlessly compliment another woman. We need more of that.
Tonight will be the first night I've spent alone in a week. When it rains, it pours! I was overwhelmed at first, but I decided to enjoy my time (safely, of course) and not spend it obsessing over what's going or not going to happen next. The whole time I've been thinking about the kind of companionship, sex, love and commitments I want and how I'd like it all to intersect in my life. I don't have the words to always explain what I want (though this woman's words have been inspiring) but I can say I'm enjoying myself without shame, fear, confusion or resentment.
Lots of people are out there creating lots of pretty things. The gorgeous painting above is by Frida Kamau-Hathorn. It's titled "Spring" and I love it.
Sunday, September 7
Last week was a busy week.