Hey Felicia,

Great piece as always, and very thought-provoking. I always thought of myself as an ally but a couple incidents made me think quite a bit. My job is inherently on the frontlines, as a middle school special ed teacher in East Baltimore (I didn't get to choose what part of Baltimore they would make me start at,) and I've had a very difficult time but I do love my kids a lot.

There's one white kid in the whole school, maybe one or two Hispanic kids, and the rest are black. I've heard my kids refer on numerous occasions to the Hispanic kids in the school as white. On one occasion, one of my kids told me to "shut your white ass up!" as I was delivering a lesson.

I was shocked, less at the disrespect and more so that he thought I was white. I'm Asian, but we had a conversation and they didn't have quite a conception of what Asian was. I said something like "well I think of myself as yellow, not white" and they all told me that the world was only white people and black people. I guess in that binary, I was lost in the shuffle.

I'm also dating another teacher who's a black woman. We go through a lot of teacher struggles. It's just been 10 months and we've discussed, somewhat facetiously, having kids and how we'd raise them. She and I had different responses. She said she'd want our kids to be tough and be prepared for a very difficult world. I asked why, and she said "well, they would be black."

It wasn't that I never thought about that before, but I'd never particularly focused on it with everything going on in the classroom. Every day is so hectic and chaotic that there's no time to think or write a substantial amount of Medium articles like there is in pandemic time. I feel less of an ally during the coronavirus because of the inability to simply reach a lot of the kids in distance learning.

Thanks for this piece, Felicia!

Written by

Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire,” God’s gift to the Earth. E-mail: ryanfan17@gmail.com

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