There is a beauty in Black relationships that is not discussed nearly enough. We keep allowing exceptions to be seen as our rules. –@BeRealBlack4Me via twitter
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My cousin asked me and my sister to volunteer at her daughter’s school for their end of the year/holiday party. We came around lunch time and sat in the parking lot for a few minutes in a spot marked “visitor parking.” We walked up to the plain brick building and waited to get buzzed in. We went into the front office and checked in, were given directions to the classroom and went on our way.
My younger cousin’s class was just heading back from lunch so we met them in the hall way. “Single file!” the teacher yelled, followed by calling on specific students to get their acts together. Last stop before class was the restroom. “You better use it now.”
We continued down the hall to prepare before the kids’ return, my cousin and a classmate given the duty to unlock the classroom door and let us in. I couldn’t help but notice the uniformity of the almost white hallway tile to the almost white classroom tile, the painted brick on every wall in the same lifeless almost white. [Maybe there was a wholesale sale on this “color”?] Overhead boasted those cheap fluorescent lights, creating dull shine spots on the floor + those basement style ceiling tiles that brown so quickly and easily and always felt too low.
We set up in a the corner in the back of the classroom at a rounded table piled with old assignments and supplies. A cool, sunless, late fall day riddled with showers all morning, yet the room was uncomfortably warm-despite its two windows wide open to a small courtyard.
There are so many kids I whispered to my sister.
And the room is so small she whispered back.
They’re in fourth grade. A pretty even number of girls + boys. Some in school uniform, some not. [I assume the purpose was to make the troublemakers easier to spot.] Many hyped on whatever they put in school lunch meals and anxiousness, they filed in and found their desks. Mrs. Anderson gave them another quick warning to be quiet and started her lesson.
My heart sunk. Half the students took heed and hung on their teacher’s every word. A handful stared at us or the clock or their shoes instead of the white board. Some chatted amongst themselves. Others looked completely detached from their surroundings, in a world far away from division and lifeless tiled floors and dingy ceilings that hung too low.. But really, how you can expect an 8 or 9 year old to concentrate on division [that new weird shit, too] after a toxic meal that probably hyped them way up only to drain their brains is beyond me.
Mrs. Anderson finished her explanation and began making her way around the room to assist students individually. It got really loud. Only the threat of no holiday party got them to settle. My sister and I worked simultaneously to keep the noise level down [the teacher had given up after the first few warnings] and help a few students. A half dozen or so hands raised high for help at a time, but hey, there’s only one Mrs. Anderson. But even on this good day with a pair of assistants, there was at least thirty of them, so some kids never got help.
Again, my thought wandered: even if there’s a lottery to get your child in, my cousin’s fourth grade class is not unique. There are hundreds-probably thousands- of children that aren’t dumb, they just don’t learn well in certain environments. And there are children that are not hyperactive or jittery by nature, they’re just pumped with poison then forced to attempt to consciously take in new information and quietly complete a task in a warm, crowded cell. For hours.
Only when work time ended and the music started did everyone come back to life. And these kids can move! And know all the lyrics and steps to the latest dance songs.
They just can’t do division.
It’s been decades since my elementary school years and I understand time brings change, but it was nothing like this. I loved school. I loved most of my teachers. I loved listening to other student’s thoughts and learning. I don’t remember most of my classmates being so disruptive and off task; I can tick off the few names of the rowdy ones with one hand. From all six years! The coldness came from the AC, not the lack of life in the hallways and classrooms. There was no looming sadness.
Did I just have it good or has it always been this way?
I discovered Because of Them, We Can a few years back via social media. I love this brand because it is visually bold and graphic, yet it teaches people-young and not so young-about the important Blacks in history who helped pave the way for many opportunities we have today. And what better way to teach our future Black history than to make them a part of it?
Because of Them is much more than a t-shirt brand or really cute kids playing dress up. Eunique, its founder, is a great inspiration being such a creative entrepreneurial Black woman raising two young princes with her king. She has been well on her way long before I discovered her, but it is just beautiful to see her family and her brand flourish!
Just know that when you purchase from Because of Them, We Can, you are doing much more than buying a poster or calendar or book; you are purchasing a piece of a necessary movement. Left and right, Black history is being whitewashed and erased. We can longer afford to leave it up to television or schooling to teach ourselves or our children the whole, true history of our people.
But hey, don’t get it twisted, you will still look fly in their tees. The backpack is my favorite travel mate. Seeing their designs + campaign made me search and discover the history of lesser known activists like Bayard Rustin, Beulah Mae Donald and Mamie Till. And anything Because of Them, We Can is a learning opportunity and conversation piece.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned
One thing that seems to be true
If there’s one thing that keeps my heart beating
If there’s one thing that keeps my mind at peace
It’s that love is not about being together forever
It’s about just loving someone when you have the chance
When you’re that lucky to share such a passionate feeling with another human being
If you love someone today
You should let it be known to them
Let it be known in your loudest tone
Because you never know where you will stand a year from now
Life has so many different paths
We cannot predict a perfect future where everything goes our way
So if you love someone today
Let it be known to them in the quietest of nights
‘Cause you never know where life will take them tomorrow
I’m sure this was written with couples in mind, but I think this applies to any relationships you wish to maintain. You know those times when you hold your tongue or backpedal or stop yourself from making a certain move for fear of looking weak or just being afraid? Say it! Apologize. Say I love you. Stop being so damn cool and surprise them. Do it! Because you. Never. Know.
Always tell someone how you feel because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye, but regret can last a lifetime.
photo cred: pinterest