Lola O.
Hello everyone I hope you are having a better day than I am. I'm really upset right now and it's taking everything in me to not cry. Deep breaths...

For some reason this week has been overwhelmingly emotionally taxing and it's like my feelings are so raw and exposed right now. I wish my face wasn't so readable because the last thing I want to do it talk about it with my co-workers. So I'm sitting at my desk, with my music soothing away today's stress, and writing it all down. That's my outlet. Always has been and always will be.

So what happened? My 6th graders. Parents get the terrible twos and teachers get the terrible pubescents also known as 6th graders for the sake of this entry. To say they are bad this year would be an understatment. They don't listen. They don't shut up. They don't have any respect. It's like it was all taken during winter vacation leaving them well what I have to deal with on a daily basis this year. It's the rudeness and lack of respect that is really eating away at my patience with and for them. Today was just the icing and a very yucky cake.

I have three 6th grade classes today, and of all of my four classes 6-2 is by far the rudest. They are the ones I started my day with. They made me so upset that I gave them a huge amount of homework and no game during class. What made me so upset? They could not or should I say would not be quiet no matter how many times I or my co-teacher told them to. I'm the kind of person that doesn't feel the need to keep repeating myself with my students. Being quiet is not an option or a suggestion. It's a fact. We can't get to games if they don't stop talking. I have to be stricter and meaner if I keep having to tell you to be quiet. It eats up time and I can't stand that.

The second class was a little better but not by much. I keep having to keep students after to clean as a punishment but that doesn't do anything. Even when we change their seats the chatting still continues. I never had this kind of problem last year. They are so rude. You tell them to do something or call them and they are like, "WHAT!!! WHY?!?! and roll their eyes. I had them as 5th graders so I know these kids, and they have really changed. In a very bad way. The kids come to class late every single day. I don't know if it's the homeroom teachers or other teachers that are responsible for this.

It's things like this that I need my co-teacher to get answers, but she doesn't seem to feel she has that kind of power since she is new. I don't think it's a big deal to ask the homeroom teachers to make sure the kids are coming on time and in their seats before the bell rings, and I don't think it's a big deal to talk to them about the behavior of their students in our class. It's moments like this that I wish I spoke Korean fluently to get my point across. Whether with my students or with the homeroom teachers I want to get things in order.

So what made me feel like crying? My third class. It all started with Listen & Speak. The second dialogue is Peter and Nami talking about what seasons they like. All the classes including this one laughed during the whole thing not because it was funny but because of Peter. This kind of thing happened last year but I let it roll of my shoulders but today it really got to me. The ignorant racism my kids display right in front of me. I could handle the lauging at first, but after I said time and time again to stop and just listen it continued. So I stopped and asked them what was so funny and they said to me, "Peter! Peter looks like a monkey!" All the while laughing their heads off. I stood there in silence until they stopped and I said to them, "Peter looks like a monkey? How can you compare a person to a monkey?" So one students said, "his skin is black like a chimpanzee!" Bringing more laughter to the students. I could feel this overwhelming ache inside of me for them. A feeling of hurt and at the same time pity that they see this world through such narrowed eyes. All they've known are people that look "just like them" but because Peter has "black skin" he is a monkey and worth laughing at.

So I said to them, "if Peter is a monkey are you saying I'm a monkey too? One kid had the nerve to keep laughing. I continued, "since I have `black` skin too doesn't that mean I must be a monkey too? How can you call another human being a monkey and insult them because of how they look? How can you say this in front of me who has the same skin color as Peter?" I said to them, "talking like that is not right. You can't say things like this about people or talk badly about them because they look differently than you!" I got myself under control and finished my part of the lesson. All I wanted to do was cry. I don't know why it took this to set me off but it really hurt and it still does.

I get that they are kids and ignorant about this kind of thing but they know right from wrong and should know how they behaved was all kinds of wrong. To Peter and even more so to me, their African-American teacher. After class finished I sat down at my desk, and my co came up to me and said, "Are you upset about what the kids said? You shouldn't be bothered they are just kids." All I could think was that is just an excuse. They should know better. They should know that what they said and how they acted was wrong and offensive. Their parents should teach them not to judge a person by how they look and that sometimes what you think should not be spoken. Their parents should teach them what racism means and how wrong it is. They should know that in this world there are plenty of people who don't look like them and that doesn't make them any less or any more. It makes them human just like them. They should...

I'm just really upset about it all. The rudeness. The insults. The racism. It just got to me today and I guess it has been building up. I am not my skin color. I am not the color of a crayon. I am Nigerian-American and proud of it but that doesn't define me. I am not a monkey. I am a human being and I should be treated like one. I get their ignorance but I don't get their wrongness. If that even makes sense. I'm tired of being stared at or having my skin and hair touched. I'm not some exotic thing on display for people to gawk at and make jokes about. Yes. I look different. Yes my hair isn't like yours. So what?! Get over it!

I'm not going to go on. Deep breaths. Thank goodness today is Friday. I have to suffer through a teacher's dinner and then I'm going to go home and spend time doing things I enjoy. Hopefully this emotional rawness will leave me soon. There is so much to enjoy and I don't want a negative attitude to spoil the beauty of all that is around me.

Today hasn't been the best of days but it hasn't been the worst of days.

Be blessed,
~Lola O.~
1 Response
  1. liveletlive Says:

    wow, that had to really hurt :( I'm sorry. That reminds me of a post I read from this blog.
    She also had a few incidents being called "poop"

    I think she handled it pretty well but One of her readers had a really good solution.

    "Now that being said...Girl you know I lack tact and diplomacy! Those little bastards (all kids are bastards and I don't care that I'm a child psychologist) would have been writing "A monkey is an animal, not a person. I will not call people names because they look different. I will learn about and embrace the many wonders of the world, despite what my ignorant parents have been teaching me."

    "I've done similar things in my class, but I have made them write things in Korean and English, so that they understand. My Korean isn't correct, but they get it"