When God Moves you

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.28.38 AM

We have this time at House Church where we all go around the circle and share what God is doing in your life at the moment. I have always resisted this piece of the time together, why does it have to be what God is doing in my life, when did my free will and decision making go out the window and I become a puppet, this is not the kind of God I believed in.

I always wondered if maybe God had just never asked or pushed me to do anything is maybe I was resistant to this piece of time because God had thrown me aside long ago, before I had even come to know him and decided I wasn’t worth talking to, just let her make her own decisions, she values her free will so much let her see where that gets her. I found myself envying the people who could come with this profound things that God was calling them to do, and even the non-profound ones, the everyday ordinary askings of God, because that meant that they were feeling something that I was not in on. I did not have the key to this piece of God. Or maybe I had been fooling myself for the last year and a half maybe this faith that I had concocted was just a facade and this is why I had never heard from God, because I truly didn’t believe in him

So when this time came on Wednesday I thought for a minute and I felt something! I mean I really felt that there was something I should share.

In the last month or so I have had the feeling, aching, gnawing feeling that I need to stand up, I need to inject myself into the conversation about Race and compassion.  I cannot stand in neutral and not disturb people so that I don’t make waves.

But now how do I do this? What way can I demonstrate grace and love in this journey.

And then something amazing happened. after I shared the way that God was moving in my life, two other people in my house church shared the revelation that they have been feeling this same calling each with variations rooted in their own lives but with this same racial base this same love of many cultures and the desire to spread this and get involved in the changes occurring in our city. There have been twice as many gang related killings in the Near North East corner of Denver in the last 5 months than all of 2014, we discussed the boxing in syndrome that is happening in this corner of Denver pushing groups together as “white ladies with strollers” take over more and more of the historically Black neighborhood.

I think this is what God looks like, finding ways to make multiple people have that same gut wrenching feeling that they a new direction in their life. This is how God makes his presence known, maybe it isn’t this supernatural voice that lets you know that you are supposed to do this and not do that you are supposed to make whatever it is a part of your life in a real way.And then giving you a sign, something that pushes that deeper, like the shared feeling with others in a common place. That movement of an entire House Church towards social justice.

There is no reason that the three of us, from vary different ages, walks of life, and ethnicities to all be pushed towards this calling in Denver Colorado, in this one room on a Wednesday night, but we are, we are all feeling this ache to help the rest of the world, to bring other people into this space and that must be God.

This is what happens when God moves you, it is not a loud speaker but a whisper.

❤ Kelsi Rae

Advertisements

The insights of my children.

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 11.07.15 AM

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/

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 11.05.19 AM

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

Dear White People. . . A review through the eyes of the hair obsessed

So when I saw the trailer for the movie Dear White People I was excited,  I couldn’t wait to see this “complex” black movie that had more substance to the characters than a Tyler Perry movie. Something that looked at the relations of twenty something whites and blacks. So when it came out I drug my white boyfriend along and said, come on it will be funny you will like it. Thinking to myself, shit you might hate this but this movie is for me.

So as a self proclaimed hair obsessed I watched the evolution of the four main characters hair throughout the film, and noticed some interesting trends, so lets look at those four main characters.

Sam- the mixed girl that becomes the face of the black power movement at her college through her Dear White People radio show. They make sure that you know that she is conflicted about where she fits in, is she too light skinned to run this movement, does the term Redbone offend her? You bet it does.  So she rocks every updo you can think of. She makes sure that you can tell her hair is natural throughout the entire movie. But you know being a mixed girl her hair might not be as curly as some so she doesn’t go and rock the full on fro, and you never see her hair down until. .. enter the white guy she is seeing on the side. Of course none of her black movement friends know about this.  It is not until she accepts her ” malato” ( as her white man calls her) ways and steps out of the spotlight to do what she loves that we see her beautiful hair out of it’s updo. When she embraces this “true self” of hers she then wears her hair down, and of course walks off into the sunset holding the hand of said white guy.

Leroy- Oh ya you have to throw a gay guy into the mix to make it complicated right? So Leroy the black guy that never fit in with anyone in high school, felt more discriminated against by the black students than the white students. Case and point someone in the movie tells him that ” you are only technically black” he has no home at the school. And is rocking a huge, unkept afro. He slowly meanders his way through all of the houses on campus and ends up back at the traditionally black house, he then finds himself at the most racist party and finds his place in the community. Is surrounded by his fellow black students and oh ya, gets a fresh cut. Now that he doesn’t have to hide behind that fro right, no need for that stereotype anymore. No way he could have just liked it.

CoCo- Oh CoCo, she is probably the one I am supposed to identify with, right, this girl that doesn’t feel strongly about black/white relations. Doesn’t come into college wanting to change the world. And maybe even wants to be white a little to much. And yet here I am writing a very racially fueled blog, guess I don’t fit into one of these pretty boxes, or maybe I am just more like Sam. But CoCo she is the only girl prominent in the movie that has a weave, or straight hair for that matter. You know, if you care about your race you are clearly a natural girl. Because how you choose to style your hair completely defines your stance on political issues. CoCo ends up dressed up at the “black party” in a white wig, and her line that stuck out to me, ” They don’t give a damn about no Harriet Tubman, they buy Jay-Z tickets. . . because they want to be us and for one night they got to be.”

Troy- Troy the son of the dean of students who has had a grudge with the white president of the school since forever. Troy that dated the presidents daughter because his dad wanted him too. Troy that became just a little bit “blacker” when he was around the white students so that they thought he was the cool guy, but was very “put together” around his fellow black students so that they would respect him or something. He made it clear to everyone that he did fresh cuts, he made it clear that his hair was important to him, important to keep short and clean. But of course gotta keep those waves in it, unkept nappy hair just wont do. Until he begins to stand up to his daddy and embrace himself, then it is a sideways cap and shaggy hair.

It is amazing to me the things I can see through the lenses of hair. And it is not that I have a problem with any of these characters I identify with a piece of all of them. But that is just it, a piece. Making this complex black movie still tried to put all of the pieces of a culture that has changed and evolved into pretty little boxes that are easy to identify. Sam wrote a book in this move that lets people take quizzes and identifies them as, oofta, nose-job, or 100. These boxes in themselves are a problem, what no one can ever try to succeed in a certain way without being an oofta, I can’t love my white boyfriend without being a nosejob?  I have made it a point in my life to stay clear of debates like this one, and here I am. . . so maybe I am more like one of these 4 characters than I want to believe. But here I am and that is not going to change.

If you loved this move that is great, I do not want a debate out of this . . this is just what the hair told me.

Yours truly

The Hair obsessed

Trials of the Hair obsessed. . . You don’t want me here because of my color. . .

Sorry for the double non-hair entries in a row, but this is something that I cannot keep in.

As stated in the last Trials of the Hair Obsessed, I am in a residency year to get my masters in special education.  I am doing this residency in a low income school that serves just over 700 students, last school year, 664 of these students identified as Hispanic, 58 identified as White, and 11 identified as African American. Ok so what do these numbers actually mean, it means that my school is over 50% spanish speaking and has continued bilingual education through 5th grade. It also means that Black students are still hugely the minority, and this makes an impact for our black males especially.

This year I am watching first hand as two of the sweetest, challenging but sweet boys get stuck in the “angry black man” label before the age of 12, they have been suspended multiple times in the last two weeks between the two of them. And talks of moving them into the center for emotional disabilities run wild. A center that is largely used for this purpose, to house “angry black men” to get them through high school, when the public education system no longer has to deal with them.

Today in my reading group one of these boys, who both are admittedly not perfect children by any means and have behavior issues that must be addressed. But one of these boys got in trouble for not listening and choosing to distract others by calling out and singing and dancing, I was having a conversation with this boy after group and it went something like this

Student throws clipboard at me across the hall ( his clipboard is part of a behavior incentive program)

” I am not coming to group tomorrow”

Me” I hope that you do, when you make good choices you learn and you are such a good student, I would miss you if you weren’t in my group.”

” You are lying, you don’t want me here, don’t want me ___( School name) cause of my color”

Me: ( Almost in tears) ” That is not true, I want you here, I believe in you and want you to succeed.”

Even at the end of this conversation I don’t think he believed me, he is maybe 9 years old and he already has it engrained in his being that he is not wanted in the place that should make him feel safe because of the color of his skin. We do not live in a city that is often thought of as having even a strong history of racism but if a innocent 9 year old boy already has this deep feeling then clearly this needs to be something that is addressed.

I am not here to call for a complete overhaul of these institutions, I am asking for everyone to understand that this is still something that is living, something that is affecting our students and taking away possibilities that they don’t even know they have. I want everyone to take the time to think about what your actions are saying to these students.

Maybe this boy heard these things from his parents or outside places, but that in itself it also a problem, these perceptions and feelings have to be stopped. As a teacher I want to make all of my students feel that no matter if they are learning English, if they are from an affluent family, if they are white or black that I believe in them

I cannot change the circumstances of my students, and I cannot change the world  but I can control how I act and the things I do with these students. And I am going to strive everyday to make EVERY student I work with feel that someone cares about them, and that I believe in them. 

I don’t know of a better way to say it than to quote the help,

“You is kind, You is smart, You is important.” 

But I can never just leave it like that so as a teacher I must say

” You are kind, you are smart, you are important.”

Come to think of it, I think I will have that made into a poster for my classroom.

Thats all for now! I will do a hair 10 months post relaxer update next week.

❤ Kelsi Rae