For the past week I have struggled with my Black identity and my role as an educator. With the decision in Ferguson, Missouri to not indict Officer Darren Wilson, I’ve been struggling. My blackness has experienced a hit that words cannot begin to describe. The rage instead my soul in unbearable. The sadness and despair I feel is as real as the wind blowing outside even if you can’t see it. Because my role as an educator doesn’t allow me to wear my emotions on my sleeve. So even though I have a smile on my face, I’m not happy. I’m actually far from it.
I came to work the next day and was still expected to show up. I was expected to go on with my work as usual. But there was nothing usual about that day. My role as an educator didn’t seem fair. My feelings about my blackness were my priority, but my role as an educator stared me straight in the face. What choice did I have?
My feelings were raw and real.
I wanted to be an educator who sought to understand before being understood, but I couldn’t.
I wanted to listen more than I spoke, but my voice was the only thing I felt I had left.
I wanted to hear the other side and their perspective, but I became frustrated that no one asked me mine.
Because for my entire life, I have ALWAYS been the educator who sought to understand first. I’ve always tried to listen more than talk. I’ve done my best to hear others’ perspectives before sharing my own.
But this time I wanted and needed something different.
I wanted permission to feel angry, sad, frustrated, lonely, and full of rage.
I wanted permission to speak my mind without explanation.
I wanted permission to share my thoughts and emotions without being judged for them.
I wanted permission to feel and experience instead of teach and educate.
I wanted permission to sit with the despair and heartache I had without expectation.
I wanted permission to just be.
I’m still waiting on that permission.
I’m still waiting for an answer to what it means to be Black and an educator in the field of student affairs. I’m still trying to figure out how I bring folks together to truly understand one another when I feel misunderstood.
I don’t know how to fully own my blackness and authentic emotions about the Ferguson case. I don’t know what it means to be an educator when your black identity is on trial. I don’t have answers, just more questions.
So I ask you, how do we help each other figure this out? How do we journey through this together? And, who truly has permission to bring their full selves to their jobs?
> BONUS <
Podcast With Becca Obergefell on Women in Student Affairs