A little walk down history lane . . let’s look at my marriage.

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9 days ago this happened!! I married the love of my life in a beautiful ceremony with all of the most important people in our life and no one said one word about the little black girl marrying the white man, but that wasn’t always the case. We as a country just won another monumental history battle for the LGBTQ community by legalizing marriage for their community but in the not so far off past we were fighting for my marriage and for some people this is still the first thing that they see when they look at my new husban and me.

Mr. first pointed this thought out to me on our honeymoon, there was another interracial couple at the resort we were staying at and he pointed them out to me, he stated that ever since we started dating more than 2 years ago he notices these couples more and feels some sort of camaraderie with them, a little head nod in the direction of the guy, a bromance over the love they found with women of different races.

We have been lucky enough to go through our relationship without any real push back or fights over these fact. HIs grandfather when we first started dating famously asked his dad if ” I was just really tan.” And then was equally confused when he met my white mother. But there was no maliciousness to this request just wanting to get his facts straight.

And when a white man walked me down the aisle and gave me away there were murmurs of confusion, questions if I was adopted and where this man came from, but that was it at the end of the day we have had a very easy relationship in this field, and I am grateful for that but that doesn’t mean it was always, or even stil is the case in some places in the world and in this country, so lets look at that.

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50 years ago… Hell 20… probably 10… years ago this card could never have been made.

The United States Supreme Court did not legalize interracial marriage until 1967… 1967 my mother was 7 years old and probably already having first grade crushes on the little black boys in her class but that sort of relationship was illegal.

In 1958 the Loving’s broke this law and wed anyway and were faced with several days of jail time and persecution for falling in love.

When I was given this card for our wedding i was overjoyed I had never seen a card like this, and then I got to thinking why haven’t I?

I can remember a few years ago that my friends went from target to target looking for the glimpse of the first gay and lesbian wedding cards that were being premiered at Target Stores across the nation it was a mini-victory in a fight that they had not won yet.

And yet here I am 50 years after that supposed battle was won for us and I am surprised and beside myself to find an interracial marriage card?

I think that when we are crying love is love, we have to remember how very true that statement is and always has been, people have been falling in love with people they “aren’t supposed to” for ages and every time they have to make this fight, that love is love no matter what

They had to fight between classes, between families, between bloodlines, between races, between genders, and through all of this they cry love is love. This cry is not political or aggressive it is simply a cry to let us love one another.

The same cry we hear over and over again through Jesus’ preachings,

” Love one another as I have loved you. ” No rules, regulations or stimulations. Let us love and be loved.

My walk down history lane reminded me how close I was in history to not being able to marry the love of my life because of the color of my skin, the last law again interracial marriage was taken off of the books in Alabama in 2000!! 2000 I was 9 years old and definitely had a crush or two on a white boy by then.

How is it that in my life time we are still crying Love is Love and begging people to hear. . . when we look back on history how far back was it when you are your love could not have been married? Separated by oceans, languages, classes, religions, country, family, race, gender, whatever else could be used to separate you… if we look back far enough we all had a time when we would have had to shout love is love. . ..

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❤ Kelsi Rae

A step inside a Libyan Engagement . . .

Tonight I attended my first engagement party ever.. and it was a Islamic engagement party, there were five of us that had been invited to our friend from Uni’s party. Over the course of this year I had become comfortable asking her questions that may offend others, I asked about the different culture practices, how she felt about Libya, what her wedding (a hypothetical at that point) would be like, the practices of hijab wearing and so on. So when she invited us to her engagement party, we jumped right in to asking questions.

Will there be men there? What should we wear? How will the engagement work?

Now since this was an arranged marriage we asked all sorts of things about that practice as well we learned as much about the practice as we could.

But when I entered this room it was still a shock, some of the most gorgeous women were dressed to the nines a roll away cart filled with Hijab’s and coats sat next to the door,a threshold where you no longer had to be restricted or worry about the happenings of the other gender.

These women had the most beautiful hair of all cuts, colors and styles they had curled it, straightened it, in updo’s. women I otherwise would have spent the night wondering about their hair now moved freely with gorgeous tresses on every head. These women were dressed in full make-up and gorgeous dresses, dressed up for each other, and themselves because truly that is who women have to dress up for everyday as it is. . .

I was lucky enough to sit at the table with the grooms family, Libyans via London, and the nicest women I have been in quite some time. They shared there customs with me, they told me what every piece of food I had on my plate was and invited me to London to relive this experience all over again in December.

While I am sure American’s have these same interactions at weddings, and make new life long friends there was something about this particular experience that was different, I don’t know if it was the fact that it was all women, and therefore no need to compete for the attention of the men in the room, or if it is a cultural difference that somehow in our capitalist, self preservation, separation  of Church and State society that we have lost. Something about this culture welcomed me in.

We ate, we talked, we laughed and enjoyed the celebration of our good friend, and new sisters engagement,  during the middle of dinner about 8 oclock, some women began to leave the various dining tables and make their way to the hijab holder, grab their beautiful over coats and hi jabs and make their way to the back of the room, almost out of sight but not quite. At first the 5 of us that were not Islamic were quite confused and then just as silently these women began praying, one of their 5 daily prayers, in groups of 2 or 3 women made their way back to complete this ritual. There was no interruption of the party even though the party of 98% women who partake in this act of Faith, they allowed the party to go on and each took part in their faith in their own way.

There is something beautiful about that, that these women did not feel the need to flaunt their faith or make their faith more important or better than anyone else’s this was a conversation between them and Allah and they were the only ones that needed to be involved. I think that this type of relationship with your God is a sign of true faith in whichever religion you are practicing.

Then came the dancing, a moment  when 30 women crowded on the dance floor to show off their moves to each other, there was traditional Arabic music and dancing, there was wonderful booty shaking that I think I could master with more practice, there was laughter and trilling that I could not get my tongue to manifest. Then in the middle of it, the music changes to . . . Trap Queen. and every one of these faithful women jumped onto the dance floor, began dancing away and singing every word!

In that moment I looked around, made eye contact with my two friends that were there with me and just thought, ” I love this moment.” ” I have never been more happy to have a new cultural experience than I am right now.

We spent the night celebrating, no competition, no petty drama, just women enjoying the moment in the life of our friend and each other.

And as I left I gave each of my new friends two kisses on each cheek, as four is traditional in Libya, as I learned and said goodbye and I hope to see them in December.

So how can we create these moments, these times when we are all so welcomed into a new cultural accepted as ignorant and unknowing but taught the ways and loved for our attempts at culture? When is there a space in our everyday life that we can invite someone into our culture and take the time to step into theirs? When we are comfortable enough to make the effort with no judgement no reservations?

I hope that I am able to find more times to step into other cultures to learn more about Libya and Islamic culture and to welcome them into mine.

❤ Kelsi Rae

What can you teach Ms. Magisano?

This quarter I have been taking a culturally responsive pedagogy class, we talk a lot about the racial and economic achievement gap that is widespread throughout this country. We discuss growth mindset, and things like the school to prison pipeline. Over all this class talks about a lot of things that I would hope new educators coming into the field especially in urban settings would see as common sense, things like . . believing all my students can succeed, and identifying the value in having a multicultural classroom, engaging families of students from different backgrounds. And a big one is ensuring that you are nurturing the whole child it is true that sometimes my students come to school hungry, or unclean, they come to school off of four busses to get here, after waking up at 4 am to get their little sister ready for school. Sometimes it is true that one of my fourth grade boys is in charge of his household when his mom is at work until 10pm, he walks his 3 little siblings to and from school makes sure they get fed and to bed before taking care of any homework, , and we wonder why the homework doesn’t get done.IMG_0735

But most importantly, more important than all of these things combined, more important than all of the obstacles that face these children everyday are the things that these students can teach me.

They have so much knowledge that I just try to soak up, everyday I can learn something new from them and that is what gives me the fire to teach them as much academic knowledge as I can, so that they can go out into the world fully prepared to teach everyone what they know.

So this week I had my students do a project to tell me exactly this, what do they think they can teach me?

I know all of the wonderful things that they teach me everyday, I know that when they wanted to do their project in Spanish I learned just as much that day as they did. I know that when they are light up to tell me about the different ways they are so caring towards each other, the ways they show compassion and empathy, I learn a little bit more about the human race each time.

But what do they think they can teach me? Is it about their joy, their culture or family, do they realize I cannot speak Spanish as well as they do and I would love to learn? Do they know that I am an only child so understanding how to interact with siblings is something I have never had to learn?

So I gave them an open forum to tell me, they were able to write “What can I teach Ms.Magisano?” Color and decorate it and we are going to make a collage of all of the things that my children know. I believe that so many times teachers come into school believing this is a one way street, they do the teaching and the students do the learning, and so students get that feeling too. . . I want them to know that this is a two way street, we are working together in this journey.

Here are just a few oIMG_0737f their answers. ..

IMG_0735 IMG_0736 They did not think of any of these wonderful things that I cherish so much. But seeing how they think, they things that they value is equally as telling. I am a literacy teacher, so many of the responses were that they could help me with math. Lets be real, they probably could. And then there were some banks of knowledge I never would have guessed, I learned about the Freedom Tower in New  York, I learned how to change to oil on a motorcycle, from a 5th grader, Nice! And I learned some fun things too, like that Jupiter has it’s own rings and that I could use help with my hair braiding! It was one of my favorite experiences so far and I can not wait to see what else I learn this year and every year to come.

Take the time to listen to children, so often they are absorbing all of our knowledge sometimes we should simply sit back and let them teach us something, the world will one day be in their hands and it is amazing how much they already know about it.

Love Your Curls

Love your curls. What a simple concept really. Teach your children that their natural hair is beautiful and it will perpetuate beauty throughout the world. However that seems to be such a difficult concept even today. We are trying to teach people to love themselves no matter who they are, black, brown, gay, straight, transgender. And yet we still have a commercial about teaching girls to love their curly hair?

For some reason that baffles me, I hope that all of these things are taught and that in future generations everyone feels comfortable and loves themselves in their own skin. However I feel like we still shouldn’t have to teach girls that their curls are beautiful, they should know it! When did straight hair become the height of beauty? There are so many great examples of women with curly hair that are gorgeous but as little girls we still look up to and identify with the straight haired beauties.

I can remember growing up when my mom would not let straighten my hair, (This was the case until I was 18). And I would envy all of my straight haired friends, I was convinced that their hair was magical and that everyday they woke up and didn’t have to do anything in order for it to be amazing. And while as I have grown up. And put my hair through hell trying to make it that magical straight hair that all my friends woke up with everyday.  I have found that they while they do generally have less prep work for their hair than I do. They also think my hair is amazing, just like I do theirs. My straight haired friends  This Hair Envy if you will is what led me to start this blog, and what concerns me today.

I cried when I watched this commercial, because I am still teaching myself to do this. Love my Curls; here I am 23 almost 24 years old trying to love my natural texture again. To wake in the morning, look in the mirror, say “My hair is HUGE,” and smile. Say this with a huge smile on my face because it was exactly what I wanted. I still find myself more often than not saying, ” My hair Is HUGE, and trying to find ways to make it smaller.” After a year of transitioning to my natural hair I am working it out, I just find myself not feeling as pretty when my hair is in its huge state. IMG_0689

This was my first successful Bantu knot out and I just cut all the relaxed ends off of my bangs and now have these curly bangs. This was day one I wore them out and by day two they are pinned up again. . . lets make my hair smaller shall we?

So at 23, as a almost completely natural haired women, I am reteaching and reexamine my Hair Envy, I am transferring my envy from the straight haired beauties of the world, because I will never have that hair, no matter how hard I will it to be. And becoming envious of the women in the natural haired world. Even though I may never have hair like those beauties, at least it is more of an attainable goal. And that way when I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror I will be like, ” My hair is HUGE, damn girl, you look good.”

So moving forward, lets teach our daughters that we love our hair, that we love them no matter how big their hair is, who they love or what they want to do when they grow up. Let’s just teach our children; Love.

So thank you Dove, I will: Love My Curls. 

❤ Kelsi Rae