As a biracial woman, I grew up in Houston in a historically black neighborhood. And it was mainly at my school, all black and Hispanic and Latino,. that was everyone I was around were all of my friends.
What I dealt with the most was other black people telling me I wasn’t black enough. It was just those jokes that kind of eventually got to me like.:
“Oh Christa you don’t count.”
Those came from people, some are still my friends, but we’ve had these conversations. And I remember specifically around like a lot of my Hispanic friends it would be kind of the same thing, but a little different. They’ll say something slightly racist and be like
“Not you Chris, you’re different.”
I had to slowly move myself away from those people.
A Passion for Teaching
I work in a Montessori school teaching 4th through 6th grade. I was always interested in teaching and was told teachers don’t make a lot. But I just wanted to do it and now I love it. It’s the best choice I could have ever made. I love what I do so the money doesn’t really matter. I have so many friends who are like, “ Oh I hate my job.”
I can’t relate.
When I was in school, I knew how to do things because of the tricks. Not because I actually knew what I was doing or knew to place value. There’s also a big focus on emotions and how to be in a community. Being that our school is a small community, we’re trying to prepare them for the outside world and how to handle certain situations. They just learn how to talk to another student if something is bothering them. They’re kids so they do get frustrated. But they have to be able to express that. So that other child can see where they’re coming from.
I’ve always thought of implementing more history and making it not so Eurocentric. In college I was a rehabilitation services major and I interned with a school for students with disabilities. So that was where I first started before moving into Montessori and I kind of wanted to implement something more about this as well. We learned not to use certain terms in certain ways. To be respectful.
I want to open my own Montessori in a neighborhood like the one I grew up in. It’s been tried before and it failed. But I still really want to do it.
Expanding The Library
There is kind of this impression that our only contribution is that we’ve been oppressed. We read one book about slavery ,and we read another book about South Africa during apartheid, and another book that was during the Jim Crow laws.
All of the books are just going through that part of the history and I want more. Books about little girls who love to skate. A little girl of color who wishes to escape, or something else instead. I was really trying to look up books by black authors for this age group. And it’s kind of difficult. They are making a lot more, which is great. And a lot of them are for the younger elementary age. They’re more of you know children’s books than pre-teens.
This June I bought a lot more books and we were reading One Crazy Summer. It really opened the kid’s eyes to a lot of things. The same child told me what her parents said and a question about it.
In the book – The main character , a girl, has a little friend named Lucy. Lucy lives in a nice house, lives on the other part of town with the girl, and always has nice clothes on. My student, a little girl I was reading to, asked me:
“Is she white or she’s black?”
And I said:
“Well earlier in the book when it was describing her as having Cocoa colored skin. Usually associated with being black.”
The girl asked, “Then how is she rich?”
I explained that black people can also be rich. There are rich people of many different colors. She thought about it for a moment and then realized what she had said.
“That makes sense. I don’t know why I asked that.”
I was glad we read that book. A lot more exposure, especially in books and the conversations we’re having, by people of color in general I think will be a big help help.