Thursday, October 29, 2015

Unwarranted Assault & Praise

 And now the rebuttal to this one-sided article.
Today I read an article that made me wonder about the humanity of the American people. You should read it before coming back to read my rebuttal. 

And now my rebuttal. 

Here's the crazy thing, I never once looked at this as a race issue but as an adult to kid issue. But as I read this article twice, the writer only referred to the young girl's race and never once the officer's. So are officers white by default? Clearly not so. But what makes her race relevant but not his? This kind of tactic is subliminal. As a former English teacher who studied rhetorical devices for a living, it's clear what the writer is doing. Fear-mongering at its most subtle. By talking about the girl's race as her descriptor and tying it to entitled and mouthy teens, the author has stoked the flames of the black female stereotype. 

We have no idea what the empty word "disruptive" means. Having worked in a classroom for a decade, I know that what some of my colleagues call disruptive is just poor classroom management. But now, according to this article, black entitled teens will make people not want to be a police officer. Couldn't have anything to do with the lousy salary, poor action of peers, and the current state of people today in general. And most officers find it an insult to be assigned to a school anyway. And some of them are absolute dicks to students. I've seen it myself.

Yes there still are "Officer Friendly"s around but there are also lots of "Officer Powertrip"s too. People fail to realize the role being human plays in the way people behave in the world. These same people want you to know that how your kids behave in front of you is not often how they behave out of sight. And this is 100% true. But the same goes for these officers. They can be so sweet and loving at the dinner table and have jerk moments on the street. This is also 100% true as evidenced by those who got caught planting drugs or weapons on people, those who severed a young man's spine, and those who are caught on video tape beating another human like an animal. And those caught dishragging 14 year old girls (remember this isn't the first caught on tape this year).

I watched frame by frame as was asked. I watched number out times. Yea she hit the officer. But in the seconds preceding that, he had his arm around her neck. So you know what, I'm not going to fault her for what was a reaction to someone threatening her, no matter what they're wearing. I'm not going to apologize for not believing an officer is infallible. As far as I know, there's only one God (could be multiple but none wear a police uniform). Nor will I believe that teenagers are always in the wrong or that a verbal response warrants a physical one. I don't know if the problem is racism, ageism, or police-ism but there is a problem. I'm not talking about a racial problem but a human one. But I will say, as evidenced by this article, Black Americans aren't the only ones throwing race cards.

Some things worth noting in this case:

*The officer was nicknamed Officer Slam by the school community prior to this event
*The student lost her mother in January
*Subsequently she was placed in foster care
*Every student on video had a laptop in that class; she either didn't have one or didn't take it out (possibly left it); I know there were many times I allowed my students to use their phones for research with monitoring.
*The website where this article was published is a very paranoid website (anti liberal, Obama, Muslims, immigrants, etc).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wanting to Be Like My Daughter

The twins turned two today. Their birthday was celebrated without much fanfare, just a couple of cupcakes with candles, a celebration that was just right for now. No gifts as they have plenty of toys to play with as leftovers from Christmas. But today I was the one to receive the gift.

Earlier this evening, I took the twins to the park to play for just a few minutes which ended up being half an hour. We went from swing to swing-- my daughter adores them. Watching her swing is like watching childhood manifest. She grips the chains and throws her head back, just lost in the awesome flying sensation. Her contagious smile ever present and the air punctuated with her giggles. To watch her swing is to remember childhood.

But that's not where the gift came in. The playground equipment wasn't made for toddlers but for bigger kids. I know that but my children do not, especially my daughter. There is a jungle gym of sorts that is definitely designed with the bigger kids in mind. And my daughter loves to climb up the first few rungs and then try to touch the higher ones. Tonight was no different. She excitedly climbed up and I watched her, gaze affixed on the next rung, stretch her hand towards it, determined. I stepped into the gap and she timidly placed her foot on my chest. Excitement shone from her eyes when her hand connected to the next rung. She didn't stop there and instead waited with her arms stretched towards the next rung. I stepped into the next gap. This time she didn't hesitate to use the help I offered and quickly went to the next rung. We repeated this process until the very last rung. Triumph and pride radiated from her being. She scrambled down from my arms and raced back to the beginning to start the process again. This happened three times before I guided her to something else.
So what was the gift? In that moment I was supremely proud of her. She was fearless, tenacious, and determined. But later on, standing in the bathroom as I was about to enter the shower, that moment replayed in my head and so did all the emotions I felt watching her. Where I felt fear, she felt anticipation. Where I felt hopelessness, she felt determination. When I felt weary, she felt energized. When I thought we were done, she had only just begun. And standing in that bathroom, looking into the mirror, tears brimming in my eyes, I wanted to be like her. I want to look at life the way she looked at that jungle gym, with excitement in the face of obstacles to overcome, to experience, and to learn from as I climbed over towards the next chapter. 

My daughter will never know how much she affects me, how much she makes me want to be better, to be someone she would one day hope to be like. I feel so honored to have been chosen to be her mother. And, until now, I wasn't sure that I was worthy of that honor. But seeing the person she is becoming, I know that I am the right person for the job. And now I feel a great sense of responsibility to protect who she is and who she's becoming. I don't ever want her to have her light almost extinguished as mine was.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Worthy of It All

I struggle with feeling worthy.

Worthy of love.
Worthy of attention.
Worthy of my dreams.
Worthy of my talents.
Worthy of success.

Gonna have a Sophia moment but life has truly been like one of her most famous lines in The Color Purple: "All my life I've had to fight". And to be perfectly honest, I'm getting tired of fighting. I used to thrive on adversity. Negative energy used to be the food I ate for breakfast, to fuel me forward. But somewhere around the mid-30s, I began rejecting the negative energy; there was just too much of it around me. That protective shell I kept over myself cracked open and I got to peek at the vulnerability I held inside.

I've always known I had talents, that God gifted me with a voice for speaking and writing. And I've always had a case of the "if onlys": "If only I lived in LA then I could act in roles that weren't as limited as those in Miami"; "If only I had time to write then I could finish my book"; "If only I had the money to finish my MFA program then I could have a completed screenplay ready for production"; "If only I knew how to cook then I could eat better and get control over my weight"; "If only I hadn't been molested then I would not have gained weight in the first place"; "If only I hadn't been raped then I wouldn't have had to put my dreams on hold"; "If only I didn't have kids so early then I could have gone off and realized my dreams and real love before having to truly settle into adulthood"; "If only I had been more proactive in high school then I wouldn't have chosen Education as my major"; "If only..."

I think you can see I have quuuuuiiiiiite a few of these regrets weighing on me, holding me back. If I have a foot cemented in yesterday how can I move forward? Letting yesterday hold me hostage is comfortable; letting it throw up barricades to realizing my potential means that I don't have to do anything about today because yesterday proved my efforts would be for naught.

While I may not be a biblical guru, there is a story in the Bible that stuck with me through the years because it spoke loudly to me. This story talks about a man entrusting his servants with money known as talents. My summary is not going to do this story justice so you can find it here. The short of it is that each servant was supposed to do something with the talents, to use them. But one servant was afraid and hid his. When his boss returned and found out, he was so angry that he had him stripped of his talents. I don't want that to happen to me; I don't want God to determine that since I am not using my writing, speaking, acting talents for good, essentially drawing attention to how good God has been to me and giving Him glory, I don't deserve them.

I have to realize that I was chosen to carry these gifts and given the great responsibility of using them to help people. My stories, my yesterday are to help people through their todays, to turn them into yesterdays, to help people get their own feet unstuck in the uselessness of regret.

There's no more time for "weeping and gnashing of teeth". I've got too much work to do. When the time comes for me to quit this Earth, I need Him to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant". So it's time to break that cement and trudge forward until all the weight of yesterday is eradicated by the promise of today and the possibilities of tomorrow.

And that begins with realizing that I am worthy of it all.

Worthy of success.
Worthy of my talents.
Worthy of my dreams.
Worthy of attention.
Worthy of love.