Being a Black Child in a Suburban School

The top is a photo of a black child in Jim Crow America. The child is on a bike with a "colored" sign representing Jim Crow times. A modern day Black child drinks from a water fountain. The caption reads Jim Crow is illegal, but the school system is still unequal.

A recent article describes how Black children in suburban schools’ face disproportionate expulsion, denial from advanced classes, lack of support from teachers and other forms of discrimination. This article came right after a black girl, who was told by the school dance instructor that her skin was too dark to perform, sued the Kansas school district. Yes, the Kansas school district, the same district that was sued in Brown v. Board of Education. These stories may be surprising to some, but not to me.  I grew up in a suburban, all-girls, private school and I can relate to everything that these black students in the article went through.

I know how it feels to be treated like an oddity. I know how it feels to be the only Black girl at the school dances and to never be asked out or danced with because of it. I know how it feels to have teachers and other students assume you’re stupid. Subtle things in that suburban environment will eat away at you every day. Things like teachers who tell white students who earn high grades, how naturally gifted, bright and intelligent they are. Yet with me, the black girl, when I earned high grades, I would get told “you’re a hard, little worker.”  There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but I was a normal teenager, I didn’t work any harder than other students. Yet, I never got the respect that my white peers did from teachers. I may not have been a genius, but neither were my white peers, but no one ever told me that I was smart. Of course, there were also the systemic disadvantages, like not being promoted to advanced classes.

In 8th grade,  everyone was required to study Latin, but in high school, it was an elective. In high school, Latin was considered prestigious because it enhanced your college application and helped with the verbal portion of the SAT because so many English words have Latin roots, such as the words elucidate, malefactor and acquiesce. The high school Latin classes were also situated at our brother school, so all the girls who qualified for the high school Latin classes were eager to take them to learn, to gain an edge on their college applications and to flirt. In order to qualify for the high school Latin classes, you had to earn at least a B+ average in middle school Latin. I earned an A average in Latin. I loved Latin and  I was well above the threshold for qualifying for high school Latin. Of course, I wanted to take the class in high school. Yet, when it came time to pick our classes for high school, my Latin teacher and academic adviser decided that they didn’t think I could handle the pressures of Latin in high school. Apparently, high school Latin at the boy’s school, in addition to taking Spanish class, would be too much for me. Plus, I wouldn’t have an extra study hall. So, they decided not to recommend that I pursue Latin. What they didn’t know was that my mother was very close with the high school Latin instructor at the boy’s school. She reached out to him and told him about my predicament. The Latin instructor  sent an email to the head of the middle school, advocating on my behalf.  In addition, my mother threatened to get the school principal involved, if they didn’t allow me to take the class. So, I was allowed to take the class.

I took the Latin class and I was the only black student. I still have the letter that the high school Latin teacher sent to my parents, stating that I earned a 90% on the final exam, 15 percentage points above the average.

This was a traumatizing experience for me. Not the final exam, not the long hours of studying, but the discrimination. I am grateful that the Latin instructor at the boy’s school advocated for me and I actually grew to greatly respect him. He was a great teacher and person. But, the fact that he even had to advocate for me in the first place was beyond hurtful. Why did it take another white man to vouch for my capability and intelligence, just to get into a class that my white peers were presumed to be worthy of?

This type of discrimination is not unique. It’s pervasive and damaging because after a while, when teachers constantly imply that you’re inferior, stupid and don’t belong in that school, you may begin to believe it yourself. It’s a real concept, it’s called stereotype threat. This is part of the reason why I’m considering homeschooling my children, if I ever have any. I can’t leave them to the mercy of the policymakers in the city public schools, who want to pull funding and force students to learn in overcrowded classrooms. I can’t subject my children to going to predominately white, suburban, private schools where they’re treated like an ‘other’ constantly either.

Sometimes, being a black kid in school is just hard and my heart really goes out to the youngsters. It’s like there is no place for us, sometimes.

 

Healthful Eating Journey|Weight Loss Tricks That Have Worked For Me

A photo of healthy smoothie with colorful fruits and vegetables

I’ve been seeing a nutritionist for 1.5 years and I’ve lost 46 pounds. I haven’t been counting calories or points. I’ve just made small changes that I have been able to sustain.  It’s been a slow and steady journey.

In a stressful world, a critical aspect of protecting and fortifying yourself is eating healthy. Part of living a lovely life is prioritizing and taking care of ourselves. I will be taking you with me on my healthful journey, as I strive to document my strategies and lessons learned for living a lovely life.

Eating healthy isn’t easy for everyone, especially if you live in a food desert. I don’t have to tell you the inequities that make healthful eating more difficult for some. Some people who don’t have access to healthy food are being disproportionately plagued by diseases like obesity, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes. Some studies posit that there is a connection between the prevalence of these diseases, including obesity, and the stress of racism by the way. In the past, I’ve struggled with mild PCOS, but eating healthy has eliminated my symptoms almost entirely. I hope to share practical and affordable changes that I’ve made to be more healthy.

For me, developing healthy eating habits makes my life a bit lovelier, so here are the top things that I have learned so far.

My Lessons Learned So far…

  1. Having a good nutritionist is essential. Diets didn’t work for me, but small changes have helped me lose weight.
  2. I had to make sure to choose a nutritionist who is going to help me, not judge me.
    • For example, I love “soul food.” I made sure to select a nutritionist who was going to show me how to modify the foods I love so that they were healthier, not forbid them entirely. Simple swaps I’ve made in recipes include: using sugar-free substitutes when possible, using whole grain rice or quinoa and using low sodium chicken broth. There are some great healthy soul food cookbooks. 
  3. I had to develop a healthy routine for RELAXING. After a long day at work, my habit used to be to sit in front of a screen and eat as much as I could, then I’d snack the rest of the evening just to relax more. This is mindless eating. Now, I sit down at the table with some relaxing music and real dishes. After dinner, I de-stress by having a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea and I do a simple craft, read or listen to soothing music. I also use adult coloring books. I try to minimize social media.
  4. I do simple exercises. I am not a gym goer. I don’t like having to master complex moves to get a workout or spend unnecessary money, but I will…  powerwalk or stroll for 30 minutes to an hour.  I will take the stairs. I will do ten minutes of exercise in the morning. Adopting these simple activities into my life has been very beneficial to my health. Tip: Using a pedometer is very helpful. Smartphones have an app and you can get pedometers for fairly reasonable prices online. You don’t have to do a Fitbit.
  5. I fill half my plate with leafy vegetables. This satiates me and keeps me from overeating.
  6. I fill a quarter of my plate with lean proteins, like grilled chicken breasts or fish.
  7. I eat more sweet potatoes. A quarter of my plate is reserved for healthy starches and sweet potatoes are my go to. They are delicious and since I have a sweet tooth, they satisfy that craving. They are also healthy.
  8. I aim to drink half of my body weight in ounces of water daily. I carry a 32 oz. (BPA free) water bottle to work and drink water at every meal.
  9. I use portion control. I try to measure out portions using the hand method. For example, the front of your balled-up fist is a serving of pasta. The size of your palm is a serving of meat. There are also great tools that can help portion food on your plate. 
  10. Use your spirituality. If you are religious or spiritual, incorporate your spirituality into your journey. I try to pray about my health journey. If you don’t pray, perhaps meditate or just take time for yourself.

  My goal is to lose 15 to 20 pounds more and I’ll be within a healthy body weight range.

I have incorporated these changes gradually into my lifestyle. During the holidays, I did get a bit sidetracked, but I will do a post in the future about tackling holiday eating.  

So what is on the menu for me this week? 

Breakfast: 1 slice whole wheat bread with peanut butter and a boiled egg.

OR

A healthy chocolate smoothie (with spinach, black beans, and fruit). It tastes better than it sounds and I will be sharing my recipe soon.

Lunch: Salad with turkey or a smoothie and an apple.

Snack: Almonds and a piece of fruit

Dinner Menus:

For me, being healthy in a world where Black women are regularly pushed to the limit is a powerful tool for living a lovely life.

 

 

Black Women: Thrown Off Golf Course for Golfing too slowly…another Black Woman Has Breast Exposed in Waffle House with Police

Story #1: 

Five  Black women at Grandview golf club in Pennsylvania were minding their business and golfing when some white men who ran the golf course told them they were golfing too slowly. The women were paying customers, so they continued to golf. Later, the police showed up. The white men who managed the course had called the police. The police didn’t stay because they determined this wasn’t a matter they needed to be involved in.  Now the golf club is losing business.

source

Story #2:

Ms. Clemens, an Alabama Black woman, was arrested at an Alabama waffle house and had her breast exposed. The police claim that Ms. Clemens threatened the workers at the establishment and that she came in drunk with a man. Ms. Clemens mother said the dispute started over plastic utensils. Clemens and another woman asked for plastic utensils and when the restaurant worker told them it would cost 50 cents, they objected and asked to speak with the supervisor. Then the police were called and the rest is history. Next thing you know, Ms. Clemens is on the ground with her breasts exposed to the world as though she were on an auction block.

source

I have no words.

Related post: Black Men Arrested for No Reason In Starbucks 

March for Our Lives: Naomi Wadler

Naomi Wadler is an 11-year-old student who led a walkout from her elementary school ,  on March 14, 2018, to protest gun violence. The walkout lasted 18 minutes. 17 minutes were to honor the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) school shooting, which occurred on February 14, 2018. 1 minute of the 18 minutes was to honor the shooting of  Courtlin Arrington, an African-American girl who was killed in an Alabama High school after the MSD shooting in Florida. On March 24, 2018, she spoke at the “March for Our Lives,” rally in Washington, D.C.

View her speech below:

“I am here today to represent Courtlin Arrington. I am here today to represent Hadiya Pendleton. I am here today to represent Tiana Thompson, who at just 16 was shot dead in her home, here in Washington, D.C. I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper…whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African-American women, who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls, full of potential. It is my privilege to be here today. I am indeed full of privilege; my voice has been heard. I’m here to acknowledge their stories, to say they matter, to say their names because I can and because I was asked to be. For far too long these names, these black girls and women have been just numbers. I’m here to say never again for those girls too. I am here to say that everyone should value those girls too. People have said that I am too young to have these thoughts on my own. People have said that I’m a tool of some nameless adult. It’s not true. My friends and I might still be 11 and we might still be in elementary school, but we know. We know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong. We also know that we stand in the shadow of the Capitol and we know that we have 7 short years until we too have the right to vote. So I am here today to honor the words of Toni Morrison. ‘If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.’ I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren’t told. To honor the girls, the women of color, who were murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation. I urge each of you to help me write the narrative for this world and understand so that these girls and women are never forgotten.” ~ Naomi Wadler

 

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