Miah Profile picture
2 May, 25 tweets, 4 min read
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.]
My mom then took us to the new school,the one in the new neighborhood."

I asked her what it was like--she would have been one of FEW Black children
"I loved my new school. We had no issues. Our neighbors then were mainly Jewish and Catholic and honestly, Miah, we all got along well. I had lots of friends.

But, over time, "For Sale" signs began popping up all over the block. White people moved out."
And she began listing the Black families on the block and when they moved in....Such and such was a doctor...such and such was a lawyer...such and such was a teacher...
My dad worked at Ford pouring concrete. He wasn't educated,but was HARD working.He also did lots of side jobs laying bricks(to this day, when I walk around Detroit, I find bricks w/my granddaddy's name stamped into them. My family's footprint is literally all over this city.)
And she talked about the neighborhood that I experienced, how it came to be that I lived in an ALL black neighborhood in a 98% Black city.
But, what two things struck me:

1. the character who got the least time--my grandmother.
2. the educators who demeaned my mother
My grandmother was the reason my mother moved from Goddard to the new neighborhood, the reason my granddady purchased a fair amount of property, the reason my mom, aunts and uncles went to integrated schools.
My grandmother recognized the academic danger my uncle & mother faced by staying in Mrs. Carleton's school and moved them immediately.

My grandmother realized that they were NEVER going to get a fair & equitable education at the school where Mrs. Carleton was at the helm
The toll Black mother have to pay to keep their children safe--emotionally, physically, academically, spiritually--is paid for in the flesh
Black women have always sought better educational opportunities for their children, believing that academia was the way for Black people to elevate social & financial status.
My grandmother's insistence that the family move to an all white neighborhood in the 1950s--in the desire for better conditions--in the middle of Jim Crow, in a country full of racial strife, when white folks threw literal moltov cocktails into integrated houses...whew chile
The educator in me reeled at the exchanges between my mother & her tchr&principal...being called a liar, being berated, being ignored by her principal--not even worthy of a wave--the P putting her house up for sale THE DAY after she realizes my mom lived down the block...
What quilt does a lifetime of those kinds of experiences weave into a student's academic experience?

What happens when students don't have parents like my grandmother, who had the agency to move swiftly and find a better school?
What happens when Ss are in a history class and asked to play "African Countries Fantasy Draft" and pretend to be an imperialist conquering an African country?

What happens when Ss get sarcasm stacked on sarcasm stacked on sarcasm from their teachers?
The OG is 70. And by all measures, she has done well. She retired as a principal and was a GOOD one. She is highly educated and so are her mother's granddaughters.

But, she remembered that story clear as day--something that happened literally 65 years ago.
That thread is woven into her life, a strand of indignity in a life full of love.

We, educators, have the power to nurture or break a child's spirit--

We should actively and intentionally work to nurture it.
What does this mean? (well, besides the obvious--don't be racist jerk and sell your house when Black folks move in)

1. Read and teach books that are affirming of different cultures and ethnicities--even if you teach in a racially and ethnically homogenous school
2. “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”--Chinua Achebe

Learn history from the side of the lion. Then from the side of the gazelle.

Teach those.
3. Speak with kindness to students. Even the difficult ones. Every single child is walking into a home you know nothing about--and some have alcoholics, some have abusers, some have the lights and water cut off, some have no food, some have no books. So, be kind.

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More from @dst6n01

2 May
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
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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