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

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When you force me to choose- I fall decidedly into “Person of Color’

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I came across this article this morning on my way to 6 am yoga, ok no not like while I was driving but when I was in the parking lot trying to get up the courage to go inside, this is a daily occurrence at yoga.

I found this article and was immediate sucked in, it was like my soul mate the other half of my thoughts was living in Washington D.C teaching middle instead of Elementary school and had the wire right into my brain. I read every word and then took the brave move and shared it on facebook, now this is something that I normally reserve for cute videos of animals and occasionally  selfie of my new hair do, but never politically posts. . . I mean never. I am an avid facebook debate watcher. . but never a participator. But this spoke to me in a way that I cannot express.

Today is another day that you force me to choose which race I am and every time you make me choose I fall decidedly in Person of Color, I am a privileged person by any standard, not from the upper class but solidly privileged, I never had to worry about food at night, I was always feed, and had any opportunity that I wanted I played club volleyball at 2,000 dollars a year for 5 years. I graduated undergrad with zero school loan debt, and when I wanted to apply for a 30,000 dollar grad program my mom said, “Ok we will make it work.” I fully understand my privilege.

But I am also half black and this is the part of me that people see, this is my first impression, the black girl, I will still be greeted with the “You are such a white black girl” and ” you are really well spoken, where are you from.”

I will still be looked at differently when I walk down the street in a predominantly black neighborhood, or a white one, whether I am alone or with my very very white bearded fiance.

So I am privileged and I am black, that is the race I am forced to choose, I am forced to check a box over and over to choose my race. And this decision has been made more and more important in light of recent events, I can feel the pain of my students, when they run to me, and only me, the only black teacher at their school to tell me that Johnny called them a Nigger and that is why he punched him and got suspended.

I cry at night for the boys that I know that are already understanding the systematic movement from a general education classroom, because as a black male, the are more scary to their teachers when they get mad,

Because no matter how easy I had it growing up. People still view me as  a Black citizen, I am a statistic, my Black father walked out on us and left me with a single mother, I grew up in a town full of KKK members,I attended a good university and have move easily through life.

Some people want to attribute my failures to the color of my skin, but they also want to give my skin color my successes, I also got into that school because of affirmative action,  I only got that job because they needed to meet some arbitrary quota.

So if being black gets my successes and my failures, what do I get? I get to support the feelings of the rest of Black America,.

If this i the case I must choose being a Person of Color. And I must try and force all of the people around me to see the feelings the VALID feelings of this entire race of people. They cannot be swept under the rug, and turned into only a reason for violence. They cannot be labeled as Thugs and criminals for trying to express themselves in the only way that they know how, because they have been systematically taught that no one will hear them when they speak. They have not been taught the proper way to communicate, to debate, to speak on a politcal framework, because there is no one there to teach them, there are people there to shuttle them through 12 years to get them to the street or prison. To create a culture of Thugs.

So as an educated, privileged, BLACK women, I believe I have to, I have to say I choose you! And because someone taught me how to have these conversations because I was allotted these things from happen chance of birth, that I was born to a white single mom in a state where my color was subtly scoffed, and not openly punished. I have to take the time to stand up and say I hear you, at the very least I hear you!

Please Please Take the time to read the original article. she just wants you to listen. . . that is the very least you can do.

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/29/dear_white_facebook_friends_i_need_you_to_respect_what_black_america_is_feeling_right_now/

❤ Kelsi Rae

An Open Letter to the Bad Kids. . .

This goes out to the student who sat down today and with a straight face told me, ” I am a bad kid.” When I asked why he thought that he told me that is what the assistant principle said. This comes after the assumption that this student took his Ipad home, because there was a picture of his mother on it, when in fact he was just smart enough to figure out how to Google his mothers name. Something the administration couldn’t figure out, when this fact was pointed out to them they refused to apologize to him, 10 year olds don’t deserve apologizes do they?

This goes out to you. . . because someone has to tell you

I want you to know that you are smart, and funny, and most likely way to witty and creative for people to handle. That you are an outlier not because you are bad but because they can’t hold you down, you do not assimilate to the classroom culture and you shouldn’t let that discourage you. Keep it up.

I want you to know that you can do the work in your classroom, that sometimes you just want to demonstrate the little power that you have in anyway that you can, While this may seem like a show of strength to you, by not doing your work you are only hurting yourself. Demonstrate your strength with your knowledge.

You need to know that compared to most of your suburban, educated, mostly white teachers you are a foreign entity. The stories you tell about the life you have to live outside of school probably astounds them. No matter how many classes you take on being culturally responsive, when you watch a 10 year old take care of his little brother and sister day after day, walk them to class, make sure that they get picked up. When you hear the stories about the 6 extra people living in your apartment it is hard to handle, and some people handle it better than others. Some people see your potential your grit, and resiliency that you show just for showing up at school each day and producing some work. Some people see how these skills will make you more marketable in the work force, some people will hone these skills with you and teach you how to regulate all of the many emotions coursing through your brain at anytime.

But some people will see a problem to be fixed, they will see a situation that must be diminished and overcome. They will see you as a deficit already, at 10 years old they will wash away all of your potential. And because of that they will write you off, they will call you a bad kid and keep a running record of your grievances in their mind. They will let your get away with not doing the work, not because they care about your situation, but because they think that is all you can do.

Accept this challenge! Rise to this occasion, to prove them wrong!

When those few teachers yell at you and sit you down one on one and make you do the work. When those teachers allow you to sit in their rooms for hours on end when you have been removed from another classroom. When you think that teacher couldn’t be any harder on you, just know it is out of love.

These are the teachers that know what you can do, they yell at you because it isn’t acceptable for you to not do the work they won’t accept anything less than the best from you, because to allow the circumstances outside of school to affect would be doing all of your amazing qualities a disservice. They are yelling and not taking your shit because they love you.

They know just when to give a little to not push to hard, but to still get the most work done.

My worst fear is that you will adopt that label of a “bad kid” as the truth. As I have already seen you doing as an amazing 10 year old. There is absolutely nothing inherently bad about you, sometimes you make bad choices, but someone has to teach you why they are bad, the choices you make are not you!

I want you to know that SI SE PUEDE! No matter what anyone, even yourself tells you. You can do this. You can overcome a system that was never designed to benefit you. but at its core, at the root of it was designed to keep you out of it. This system is yours, you are the future.

And the only thing Bad about you is how Bad Ass, you are going to make this world when you show everyone what you are made of.

❤ Kelsi Rae

The insights of my children.

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I have no children, or I have anywhere from 32-100 on any given day, just depending on your definition of “your child” If your definition falls in the you conceived this child and gave birth to them, or even adopted them into your family and you feed and cloth them on a daily basis, then I have a whopping 0 children. But if you define your children based on the number of children you nurture, care for, find yourself staying up all night thinking and praying for, hoping more for their future than for the grade they get on some standardize test, if your children are defined by the amount of love you hold for them and how much potential influence you have over their life, than I have upwards of 35 children or more. I happen to define my children based on the latter.

I see these children for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, caring for their social and academic well being, I find myself thinking of them on my nights and weekends, to the point I was at the zoo taking pictures of the snakes, which I hate, because I knew they would motivate one of my children. I see an opportunity to teach them in every moment of my day, even when they are not with me I am thinking of ways to incorporate things into our lessons. I wish that I had more than 8 hours with each of them so that I could learn the intricacies of their personality all of the things that get pushed aside during the academically driven day. And while I am not say that reading, writing, math, science and social studies are not important, they are but I want to truly know all of my children as well. And if that does not qualify my to feel just like 1/4 of a mother to all of my students, than I guess I am in the wrong profession, but I don’t think that is true.

But than something happens everyday my students teach me something, they teach me how to operate some form of technology, they teach me about the ways that social relationships in fourth grade have not changed that much in 15 years and who the stars of the new Five Nights at Freddy’s game is, ( For more on that see this post https://myhairenvy.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/what-can-you-teach-ms-magisano/)  But every once in a while, a student says something that makes me truly stop and think, how are you in fourth grade and why does our world make you so acutely aware of these things at such a young age.

Today was one of those days. One of my few Black boy students was getting into a disagreement with another student who happened to be Mexican, both boys told each other to Shut up and I stepped in to tell them that was not respectful language and we do not treat our classmates that way. The Black student looked me dead in the eye and said, ” I am just getting pay back for what he said to me.” So with this student in is often better to just give it to him straight, without the teacher mumbo jumbo surrounding it.

So I stated, ” Who is going to get in trouble if you get payback, you or him.”

Him: ” We both should get in trouble, but I will get sent to prison and he will go to school.”

** This is where the conversation took a serious turn I was stunned jaw hanging open when this occurred**

He continued to state that he would go to jail, but when he got out he would find the other student and wack him ( I do believe he meant I will hit him, he is not in the 1960’s Italian mob telling me he is going to kill him)

We had an entire conversation around this, how he thought it was more likely he would get sent to prison while the other guy would get away with it. This comes after two separate instances with this student where a student has used racist language with him, he retaliated and he was sent to the principles office while the other student suffered no consequences. At one point the teachers on duty did not even know who the other student was, these racist statements were not seen in any way as a problem that merited a talking to with that child.

So yes this student is probably right, this comes from a student who is growing up in a world where Black Americans make up 30% of the population but they make up 60% of the incarcerated population. According to this article http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/18/chart-of-the-week-the-black-white-gap-in-incarceration-rates/

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my student as well as other Black men are 6 times more likely to be incarcerated in their lifetime than white males. Given these statistics are comparing White males and Black Males and no statistics in this particular study comparing Hispanic Americans’ from other work I have done the numbers would fall somewhere in the middle of the two.

But for me the sentiment is the same, why is my 4th grade student aware of these problems with our society, does he even realize he is voicing the concerns of many others much older than he is? probably not.

He probably feels like these things are isolated to this elementary school setting,

He probably has not even started to think outside of these walls that are supposed to be a safe and nurturing space for him, a space where all of his teachers claim him as a child, where they all feel like they are 1/4th of his Mother, and if that was the case these things would bother them as much as they do me, they would all be calling for a change in the system, a change from a system that systematically creates the school to prison pipeline for these students, that funnels them through till they are 18 and they can become a ward to the state, they would be outcrying to the district that has a 60% disproportionality rate of Black males in the emotional disability centers.

But that is not happening, instead I am having a much to mature conversation with my fourth grader, with one of my children who has way to much insight for his own good, trying to get him to see that this is not the way it has to be.

❤ Kelsi Rae

Neutral is not Neutral.

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Neutral, that is a good place to be right? When I am neutral I cannot be held accountable, I am not saying anything one way or another. I firmly believe in nothing.

I can claim neutral for anything right? I am neutral about that girls jeans, I mean they don’t affect my life one way or another, I am neutral about the weather today, I can put on a lite jacket, I am neutral about the presidential debate, I mean my little voice isn’t going to make a difference anyway. I am neutral about the racial gaps in education, I mean I am making the difference in my scope of influence but I cannot change the entire world. . .I am neutral. .  no one can fault me for that right?

WRONG! 

Someone told me recently . . .

Neutral is not Neutral; prior to this explicit statement I had been proud of my many neutral stances.

I had often shied away from an uncomfortable conversation or political stance in order to remain in the neutral group. This group could not be held accountable for the actions of the extremes right? This statement and discussion following truly made me see that a neutral stance does not separate me from the issue. Many times since this began I have found myself leaning into the uncomfortable conversations

I have found myself being the one to bring up the,” That could have sounded racist conversations,’ with friends. I have found myself, blogging about the challenges that are faced in urban schools; digging into how uncomfortable it is, becoming strongly not neutral.

The farther I find myself from neutral the more I find myself wanting to engage people in these discussions, find a way to make other educators other people see that none of us our neutral and that we cannot remain neutral if we want all of our students and children to succeed.

Part of this pull has made me realize that if you are neutral you are truly promoting the majority. Your neutrality does not affect the majority but the minority will see if as a strike of offense. If you do not stand up for something then you automatically say that you agree with the status quo.

This hit me with the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. If you sit back and say nothing, the majority does not care that you essentially don’t care about Black lives, because hell. . neither do they.

But those people standing up, fighting for equality for people of all races, they see your neutrality as equally offensive as the active participants against them, If you stand by and watch these people be abused and oppressed you are oppressing them, by not taking a stance. Nothing is neutral, you are not Switzerland, you cannot stay out of the uncomfortable places without making a statement.

If you simply stand by, you are not showing people that you are neutral, you are showing them that you are either not strong enough to take a stand or that you agree with the majority.

So find something that you believe in. . anything really and take a stand!

Push into the discomfort, it will make the world a better place!

❤ Kelsi Rae