The Odyssey Of An Angry Black Woman

You wear the label proudly
It is justified, your superpower
When the breaking point happens
It is your anger that rescues and restores you.

Right from the start you,
the only Black K-12 academic teacher in that district,
KNEW
Your emotional safety was at risk
They were more comfortable with
An Assimilating Black Woman
Not
an angry one.

Scene 1

A White parent complains
you are
Doing “too much Black stuff”
You swallow the indignity
Meet with her and the White principal
Textbook in hand, to prove, that yes
3/5ths clause is actually IN the curriculum. She replies,

“Bobby
already
feels bad enough
about this kind of stuff.”

You return to your classroom,
head
high
truth-teller
teacher
you are
And your students thrive
Cause your anger is
awe
inspiring.

Scene 2

Lunch
in the faculty room
White women colleagues discuss
sunburns
one proclaims
“Oh, but you don’t have to worry about that Sonja.”
You navigate this othering
and ignorance
Tell them about
the gift of melanin
And how all gifts must be
protected
After that day, you learn to eat lunch
in your classroom
Cause your anger is
your armor.

Scene 3

End-of-the-school-year BBQ
Asked how you’d LIKE your burger cooked,
Your lips part,
a White male colleague interjects
“..like she LIKES her men.
BLACK
and hot.”
You get confrontationally close to this colonizer,
Wielding your anger like an axe
Toward him and all others around you
To dissolve such speech
Cause your anger is
acrimony.

Scene 4

“AnyGivenDayofthe180DaysoftheYearinaPredominantlyWhiteSchoolDistrict”

A discussion about racism
blonde, White woman colleague asserts,
“I don’t see color”
And
“I can’t go to Harlem; I’d be a target.”
BS you think, “absurd” you say
Which surprises your colleague
who. then. cries
When you advocate for yourself
against the microaggressions
you’ve experienced
and the various ways racism
thrives in this school district.
You are
Accused
of playing “the race card”
Accused
of being “too sensitive.”
You are Always “too” something here.
The real issue?
You are just
“too”
Black.
Cause they are more comfortable
with an Apathetic Black Woman
Not
an angry one.

Scene 5

Dozens of White seniors
On the steps of their high-school building
chant the N-word
as they sing lyrics to a rap song
You report this behavior to all district administrators
The superintendent says
“I’m sure that was awful for you.”
He suggests you speak with the seniors
let them know how that made you feel.

Hell. No.

The onus to address racism
Is not the sole responsibility of the Angry Black Woman

Instead

You co-found the Race Matters Committee
Collaborate with teachers
parents
the community
Leverage your power
to provide
Professional development on race and racism for the district
Co-write curriculum
that helps White students develop racial literacy
Cause your anger is
avenging and availing.

Scene “The Final Last Act”

The White elementary school principal
calls your brilliant
beautiful
Black daughter
‘slave labor’
upon meeting her
for the first time
You file a harassment claim
six-weeks of investigation conducted by district lawyers,
the verdict was in.

“We do not find that these actions rise 
to the level of creating a hostile work environment.”

The White superintendent hand delivers this letter
to you
in your classroom. At lunchtime.

You read the letter, hands trembling, 
and finish the remainder of the school day
And do this, splendidly.
Cause your anger is astonishing
you’ll never let them
take away your shine.

Then you pick up your bag and leave

The breaking point had come.
You retreat. Mediate. Pray.

And you do not return.

You wait for your spiritual mothers and 
earthly sisters and aunties to speak.
Days turn into weeks.
Weeks turn into months.
Until finally,
you hear them.
Maya.
Then Ruby. Then Toni. Then bell.
Ellen. Rachel. Yolanda.
Barbara.
Their words move through you like a storm.

You ask how to arm your daughter against racism
Claudia answers.

Nothing you say equals what she sees you do
How you value yourself
What you put up with
What you don’t

You know what you need to do.

You’d reached your breaking point.
You have been antagonized, but you are not broken.
Despite their relentless attempts, they failed in that regard.

And yet, something does break inside of you.
Your allegiance to a district
ripe with racism,
but too blind to see the bleeding.

Instead
like Rankine,
you pledge allegiance to your own agency in the world
and in doing so, find and create new spaces
to thrive.

Cause your anger is audacious
and you will always
resist.

This blog post is part of the #31DaysIBPOC Blog Challenge, a month-long movement to feature the voices of indigenous and teachers of color as writers and scholars. Please CLICK HERE to read yesterday’s blog post by [Marian Dingle] (and be sure to check out the link at the end of each post to catch up on the rest of the blog circle).