Miah Profile picture
2 May, 25 tweets, 6 min read
Part 1
Ya'll know I grew up in Detroit (#3134ever),but I grew up in 80s-90s Detroit,when the city was 98% Black

I had Black neighbors, Black teachers, Black doctors....was in a Black Girl Scout Troop, my parents' friends were Black lawyers, judges, businessmen... Deltas, AKAs...
I also grew up pretty solidly middle class. I did not experience the "gritty" Detroit--a lot of that was urban lore to me. I won't state the name of the neighborhood where I grew up, but it's historic, with tree-lined streets and when I was a kid, lots of 2 parent households.
My house was across the street from my grandparents and down the block from my aunts, uncles and cousins. Most of my immediate family lived within 3 blocks of each other.

My neighborhood was Black, save for one Asian family who moved out before I was 5. Then it was ALL Black
I didn't think about; middle-class Black Detroit was my normal.

I'm currently in Detroit, and yesterday I went to Eastern Market with my aunt. The #NewDetroit is still...different to me...
White people were EVERYWHERE in the Eastern Market. White folks eating bbq and listening to jazz at Berts (seriously, at BERTS I saw less than 10 Black folks); white folks at the bakery; white folks flooding the parking lot...
On the drive home, we took a scenic route through some old neighborhoods. WHITE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE....tending community gardens, jogging, mowing lawns...

Let me be clear--I don't think this is bad...but it is ODD (for me who grew up in the city when it was 98% Black)
When I saw white folks in Detroit as a kid, I assumed they were in the city to commit a crime...dump trash, or look for drugs or sex workers.

So, I mention to my aunt how different it is for me to see White folks in Detroit and she said "not to me. This is normal."
My aunt is in her mid 60s.

She went on to say that the #NewDetroit reminds her of the Detroit she grew up in. She said, "When I was a girl, almost all our neighbors were White." Then she laughed a little and told me to ask my mom about her first grade teacher.
So, of course I go home and pull up on the OG. The OG is in her 70s and grew up in Detroit--her childhood home is across the street from my childhood home, where she and my dad live. So, she has been in the same neighborhood for 65+ years.
Note for later--my grandparents' house is the biggest house on the block and is over 2500 sq ft

My very Black granddaddy, who fled GA as a teenager because he was being chased by a literal lynch mob, bought the biggest house on the block in an all white neighborhood in the 1950s
Now my mind is swirling:I'd heard of non-Black Detroit, but I'd not experienced. Now, I'm slowly realizing that my family was literally on the front lines of integration, 60+ years ago

I mean, I'd known that...but I never KNEW that...if you know what I mean. So, I got questions
I say, "mom, how old were you when you moved here?"

She said she was 5. I asked what the neighborhood was like.

She said "it was all White. Well, almost all white. There were 2 other Black families (both are still there), Mr. Watts and Mr. Smith."
I asked what school was like--in my head, I'm realizing that my mother would have been in one of the 1st classes to integrate. If the neighborhood was all white, I assumed her schools were all white & she that went to the neighborhood school.

The ed policy degree in me is ALERT
Doing some quick math, I realize my mom would have been a kid shortly after Brown v Bd. OMG. HOW HAD I NOT MADE THIS CONNECTION THIS BEFORE?!
She laughs & says, "Oh I have a story for you."
Story below:
"When we moved, my mom taught me our new address. But she also told me that when asked, I was to give the old addy (from the all Black neighborhood they'd moved from).

We practiced the old addy so I knew what to say.
When I went to school, you had to stand up and give your teacher your name, phone number and address.

We moved in October, after the school year started. My mom kept me and my older brother in our old school because she didn't want to move us mid year.
On the day you're supposed to give your address, I got to school, and my teacher, Ms. Love, who was white, asked me my address. I gave her the new one.

I'd forgotten the rule--to give the old address.
I gave her the address and she looked me right in my face and said 'what did you say?'

I repeated the address.

She replied 'you little liar. That's not your address'
So, I started to cry. (The OG was in kindergarden). I was so confused, because I KNEW my address.

She sent me to my seat. Later that afternoon, I was summoned to the principal's office--Mrs. Carleton. Mrs. Carleton asked me my address. I repeated my new address.
She turned beet red.

She brought in my big brother, S. (he was 10) & asked him. He remembered the rule, looked her in her face & gave the OLD address. The principal asked him why I would lie & give an address that wasn't mine. He said he didn't know & we were dismissed.
In the hallway, he reminded me that I was supposed to to give the old address, not the new one.

We had been in our new house about a month. That same afternoon, S. said, "come on. Let's take a walk and learn the new neighborhood. Off we went...down the block.
6 houses down, I say to him, 'S! That's Mrs. Carleton's car!!!'

Mrs. Carleton drove a powder blue Cadillac and it was parked in the driveway down the street from our new house.

S. told me I was wrong. I insisted I was right.

When we got home, I sat on the front steps.
[I can totally picture the OG as the cutest little girl, chubby with 2 pigtails, feet swinging on the front porch, waving to her new neighbors.]

As I was sitting outside, I saw the powder blue Cadillac roll past. And in the driver's seat was Mrs. Carleton.
HI MRS. CARLETON! I waved and shouted.

She never turned her head. She never acknowledged me.

I went inside and said to S. and my mom, 'I just saw Mrs. Carleton!! She lives on our street and she just drove by!"
The next day I went to school. I wanted to see her, but Mrs. Carleton wasn't there.

When I got home that afternoon, there was a "For Sale" sign outside her house.

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More from @dst6n01

2 May
Part 2, cont. [trigger: racially insensitive language]

*The OG DOES NOT curse and I'm 40--I've NEVER heard her talk like this before...which emphasizes the point to me*

" Mrs. Carleton was not going to live next door to niggers.
Mrs. Carleton thought we were beneath her.

And we had the biggest house on the block.
We never went back to that school. When my mother saw the "for sale" sign, she knew that we would not have a good experience at the school with the woman in charge who would not live on the same block as niggers.

[The OG kind of laughed here.]
Read 25 tweets
19 Apr
I wrote this in 2019:

The older I get, the more grateful I am for my middle & high school English teachers who taught us the beauty & range of Black thought through Black literature:
Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry (6th grade)
Sounder (MS)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (MS & HS)
Langston Hughes poetry (MS &HS)
Nikki Giovanni poetry (MS &HS)
Margaret Walker’s Poetry
Their Eyes Were Watching God
The Bluest Eye
Song of Solomon
Go Tell it on the Mountain
If Beale Street Could Talk
Native Son
Black Boy
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
A Raisin in the Sun
I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (which I remember reading after The Crucible; I can’t remember if it was assigned or my teacher talked about it & I got it)

Which inspired me to read on my own in HS:
Read 11 tweets
13 Apr
I read YA literature.

Not as much as I would like, but in all fairness I don't read as much of anything that I like.
I didn't used to. When I was a new high school teacher, I neither read it nor taught it; as an old high school teacher I read it but did not teach it; as a middle school teacher
I read & taught it.

We can discuss my personal instructional pedagogies later. That's not the point.
Anywho, I started reading YA literature when I got my master's degree in reading education and took an elective called something like "Young Adult Literature." I took the class because it seemed like a great balance to statistics...I could just read easy lit, get my A and be done
Read 36 tweets
12 Apr
I am not a black man. I know lots of black men, including doctors, teachers, lawyers, businessmen, artists,

ALL of them have shared this fear with me. These are men that don’t fear much, but in the words of one teacher: “when I see a cop car, my bowels immediately get loose”
I remember when we were kids, if we went somewhere as a family, more likely than not my mom was driving.

I asked both of my parents about that at some point, and they had the same answer: the cops won’t pull your mom over
A few years ago, my dad needed to talk to the police. Sees a young black officer, tells me to pull over (I was driving). My father is...a character...😂, so I’m already kind of rolling my eyes
Read 7 tweets
4 Apr
"Why do we teach reading?"

My mom, the smartest woman I know, past reading & English teacher, reading specialist and principal, asked me that question this week.
We sometimes get into these discussions--on some things we agree; on others we do not. But, it is a blessing to have your mother as your professional sage and mentor
Anyway, she gave me her answer (I'll share it later). But the question got me thinking about something else she'd told me years before:

"Miah," she said "Sometimes you had to win. I knew that as your mother sometimes you had to win and sometimes you had to beat me."
Read 33 tweets
9 Jun 20
Story I learned last night:

I started Girl Scouts in first grade and was an active scout until I was 17 (12th grade)—did ALL the GS stuff and loved my scouting experience. I was a GS national delegate.

My troop, 1001, was in Detroit and almost all black.
Our leaders were Black women and they genuinely loved us. Because they loved us, we did ALL the GS things: we sold cookies, and earned badges, and did community service, and went camping.
Real camping—out in the “forest.” Cabins and s’mores and trails and knapsacks and walking sticks and campfires and songs and lakes and ALL THE THINGS.

Read 24 tweets

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