Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Good Hair" vs. "Bad Hair"

During my prep at work the other day, two students (for the sake of this post, I will reveal their races: one female was Dominican, the other was African American) were in my room finishing up some projects on the laptops. The students were seated close to my desk and were having a light conversation. As I was involved in my work at my desk, I couldn't help but listen to bits and pieces of their conversation. Even though I'm not quite 10 years older than most of my students, I often wonder what do teenagers talk about these days? One segment of their conversation particularly sparked my interest.

"Oh, but she has black hair"

I almost fell out of my chair when I heard that. If it is one thing that gets under my skin, it is when people classify a feature or characteristic by a race. (talking white, acting black...)

So of course I had to intervene and ask: "What is black hair?"

The student responded by saying: "Oh, you know, bad hair"

(So if I almost fell out of my seat the first time, I was surely on the floor by now)

I asked her: "Well, what is bad hair"

She said: "You know, nappy hair"


How is it that society has created the perception that "good hair" is white hair, and "bad hair" is black hair? And why is it that we are still using the degrading term: nappy hair? Instead of referring to the texture as being "coarse"?

My usual reaction would be showing and letting my student know that I am offended. Instead, I took a deep breath and calmly informed the student of the correct way to describe someone's hair. This led to us having a conversation surrounding the topic of "Good Hair" vs. "Bad Hair". I made it my mission to let my student know that coarse hair can be just as beautiful as fine hair, that even though we see Caucasian people as having "perfect hair", they face their own challenges with their hair, and that even more importantly, each type of hair is beautiful in it's own way.

I actually felt by the end of our conversation that I had accomplished something. And I realized something, that if more people were informed of the vast beauty that each type of hair has, then maybe African American people would feel more comfortable wearing their natural hair, as opposed to hair that is chemically processed and/or straightened at 450 degrees. I realized that I too have insecurities with my own hair. I feel more beautiful when my hair is bone straight and will spend over an hour in my bathroom Sunday night making sure that my hair is blow dried, straightened, and then curled. Even though I shouldn't care, I wonder if my students and co-workers will accept my natural hair, or if they will look at me like: "Oh, she didn't have enough time to do her hair this morning".

Maybe one day all of these insecurities will vanish, I will be able to put down the flat iron, and wear my natural hair with confidence. I'm working on day I will achieve these goals :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ultimate Salary vs. Comfortable Salary

A while ago I was talking to someone and we were discussing our careers. We are both teachers. I teach in the city, she teaches in the suburbs. She was telling me about how she's applying for a job in an affluent paying suburban school district and suggested to me that I do the same (especially since they are looking to hire more minorities). I told her that I would look into it...

In the back of my mind I was thinking:

::psh...yeah right::

I think every kid grows up dreaming of a job with a six figure salary. That's especially with the help of parents...

Mom: You're going to be a lawyer when you grow up!
Me: Uhhh...Ok.

In reality, how many of us ended up achieving the job of our dreams? Not many. I started college thinking that I was going to be a Pharmacist. I figured I passed all of the Science classes in high school with A's, why wouldn't I do well in this major?!? That didn't go far once I passed my Intro to Biology class with a C-. I was entering my junior year and still had no idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I spent an entire summer trying to dig deep within to think of what I was good at.

Shopping, Watching TV, Doing Hair, Singing in the shower, Folding clothes, Grading Papers, Reading, Writing...

Then the light bulb went off in my head...I should be a teacher! I took all of the prerequisites for a minor in Education and switched my major to Literature. I then went on to grad school and took up a major in secondary education. Once I graduated the first place that I applied to was in the city.

Yes, my job is stressful and I deal with very intense situations on a daily basis and a lot of my population is composed of hard-to reach students. Even on my most stressed out days when I sit at my desk and rub my temples...I go home at night, lie in the bed and reflect on my day. Then I realize: It wasn't that bad.

Aside from the stress, I get to do what I love (teach!), show my creativity, my sense of humor, make real-world connections, challenge my students, set goals for their futures, and watch many of them succeed. I can honestly say that I never watch the clock thinking: When is my day going to be over? Everyday is like getting on a rollercoaster for the first time, wondering what are going to be the ups and downs, curves, twists, spins, etc.

I wouldn't trade it for the world. At least not for now. Yes, more money can be made in the suburbs. But I am here because this is where I am needed. :)


Who told me to start a blog at 1:00 AM in the morning? While the rest of the world is asleep (including my beautiful son), my mind is bursting at the seams with ideas to do at this time. This was one of them.

Where do I begin? I'm a twenty-something year old that lives a somewhat normal life.

In a nut shell: I'm an English teacher, mother, daughter, niece, and sister. I enjoy shopping, writing, reading, taking joy rides (aka getting lost), playing with my energetic two year old, and teaching my fabulous eighth graders. Those that meet me might think that I am shy, but that's far from the truth. I'm actually rather talkative once you get to know me. And once you REALLY get to know me then you'll find out that I'm very sarcastic. I look for the humor in everything, and I