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Black Teacher: I Am Not Ok

A teachers' union leader pens words on hate, stereotypes and racial tension

Wayne White's picture
Jun 03, 2020
#IAMNOTOK
 
I am not okay that I am made to feel less of an American than other Americans watching people in their pickup trucks and jeeps waving the big ole red, white, and blue. The signal it gives me is that I’m not as American because it’s usually accompanied with the black and blue whose lives matter more than mine. 
I am not ok that we teach how evil the Nazis were but we still fight to keep the Confederate flag and monuments as national symbols. We watched Jewish survivors receive reparations from the Holocaust (as they should have) but reparations ain’t even a thought for the centuries of persecution with benefits. I guess we don’t matter again. 
 
I am not okay that I have to put on a smile as a strategy to keep safe. If I don’t smile, I might be considered a threat which can lead to minimal questioning because I look suspicious. Why must I smile when I don't want to? Because being labeled as the angry black man has many far reaching consequences. 
 
I am not okay with the false equivalencies of Antifa and white supremacists. Antifa is being made a terrorist group before the KKK who has killed thousands of Americans for over 100 years. But yet there are “good people” on the side of domestic terrorism?! And you’re more mad at Antifa than the Klan?! I don’t see your anger on social media for those racists. Here’s a hint: google how many people have Antifa killed and then google how many people have the KKK killed. But once again I guess my American life doesn’t matter as a target of terror. 
 
I am not okay with having to give my two boys “the talk” one day. That one day where I have to tell them most cops are here to help you but some are not. Call home if you are ever pulled over, keep your hands visible or keep your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2, and answer “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” even if you know you’ve done nothing wrong. Maybe Uncle Bobby can get us a PBA card so your life can matter more because I love you and want you to make it home. 
 
I am not ok with your sympathy. I need your empathy. I need your anger. I need your rage. I don’t need your questioning about what’s going on. You knew what was going on. You heard Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle and other famous comedians use humor as their entertaining coping mechanism to talk about it. I don’t need your changing of the subject to the riots when what should be discussed is WHY the riots. I don’t need to talk about is it the left or the right or Democrats or Republicans so you can point the finger and look away from the image in the mirror you don’t want to see. I don’t need to know that you have black friends or grew up in the ‘hood so you’re not racist. I didn’t grow up in the ‘hood but the people from the ‘hood protected me and made me matter more than I do now. 
 
I am not ok with the assumption as a black teacher, I must be a disciplinarian for black students. I have three degrees. None of them have to do with discipline. 
 
I am not ok with the protests of opening up the country coinciding with the release of the numbers on who was dying in the country like they didn’t matter. 
 
I am not ok with being sick and tired of all of this. I’m tired. So tired of not being treated as a regular American that some days I look at that flag and wonder when will I have the same rights for which it stands for. And also accepting that there are times it may never happen. But I continue to fight like I always have because what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I will do what I can because I know I matter. 
 
I need a break from all of this. I need to feel ok. And I’m thankful for those who recognized it but too many “friends” still don’t. I’m just tired like Rosa Parks was. So Tired.
 
Wayne White is the President of the Bellport Teachers Association and serves on the Board of Directors of the New York State United Teachers.

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