Some of you will never understand the amount of skill needed to be cordial to people you genuinely do not like. And I am not talking about being the "bigger person". But navigating life as a Black woman in any systematically racist environment. There is no medal, no trophy, no badge, no parade …. it is just a known, unknown skill set that many of us have, extensively use, and sometimes despise. It is deeper than "grin and bear it", and more hidden than, "seeing the glass half full". It helps us survive, pushes fear to the side and helps us move forward with our own purpose. Being cordial in a systemically racist environment takes skill...but is it necessary?
In honor of the Tokyo Olympics (that just ended yesterday), I would like to personally recognize those of us that have mastered the skill of being cordial in the worse situations. We are all deserving of gold medals and will forever be in first place.
One of the many things I've learned during the pandemic is the importance of pursuing my goals, no matter the challenges, despite what others think and regardless of the ill will of haters.
I would often blame my previous employers for sabotaging my growth opportunities. But over the past year I’ve realized that I was in fact sabotaging myself by staying and believing that I was only worth what they offered. These organizations did not deserve my talents, my knowledge, my skills, my potential, or my dreams. Despite my recognition of the unequal relationships, I had between my former employers, I remained grateful for the opportunity to learn these life lessons. But even with lessons, we must know when to let go, and grow.
I would often think that having non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and having to incorporate treatment into my work schedule, would foreshadow everything I've brought to the table. But interestingly I was sometimes treated with hate, jealousy, discrimination, harassment, and envy. I couldn’t quite understand why people would be so intimidated by me, the worker that leaves early and often for NHL treatments. But it finally clicked during the pandemic, as I had time to reset, that despite all the challenges I’ve seen in myself, those people were being blinded by my resilience, knowledge, strength, determination, and potential. In other words, the haters could care less about my medical diagnosis, I was a threat...period.
I stepped out on faith during a pandemic and decided to pursue some of my goals. It just felt right, scary, but right. I wrote and self-published my first book, created my own businesses, continued to pursue my Doctoral degree, started a fellowship, and just started being the best version of myself! Yes, there have been roadblocks, challenges, visits to the ER, melt downs, headaches, etc. But I managed to still pursue things that make me happy as a person. I’ve learned when to say “NO”, when to say “Yes” and when to rest.
My goal in life has never been to become a millionaire and travel to space. I want to be a change agent that makes a difference not just in my life but the lives of others. I’ve earned the opportunities to do everything I dreamed of and more, without fame or fortune. Changing the world isn’t always done with physical contributions. Sometimes it takes strong voices, believers, and good troublemakers, just look at some of the many historical voices of change like Fannie Lou Hammer, Shirley Chisholm, and Ida B. Wells.
I still have more dreams, goals, and moves to make, but the difference between now and everything before the pandemic is my vision is getting clearer, my confidence is stronger, my humility stays constant, and my empathy never alters. I no longer wish for a seat; I’ve made my own table.
Although I've expressed my opinion on this topic for quite some time, it seems to be a current "hot topic", so I'll give my top 5 reasons I don’t refer to myself as a "Person of Color":
1. Using the word "color" in relation to describing a Black person has historically been known as derogatory, in my opinion it still is.
2. Under most circumstances I am considered Black or African American, I personally don't need a new term to identify my inequitable position or status in this Country.
3. In my opinion "BIPOC" is a trend term, I'm not into trends or fitting in.
4. My racial identity is obvious, unless of course you think I'm clear.
5. First they'll use "Person of Color", next they assume the word "Negro" is back in style and acceptable.
This is my top 5, I could list more but I'm not overly justifying my preference to other people's norms.
Constantly having to advocate for my Black children is draining. Ensuring they will be treated fairly, without prejudice, racism and aggression is a huge task. No matter how much of an upstanding citizen I am, my Black children will experience implicit bias simply based on the color of their skin.
Constantly having to advocate for my Black children is draining. But most importantly it is necessary. Constantly reminding them that no matter how perfect they are in my eyes, the world will see them as a threat.
Constantly having to advocate for my Black children is draining. Turning the other cheek is no longer an option, and remaining quite signifies acceptance.
Constantly having to advocate for my Black children is draining. The continuous thoughts of my children experiencing name calling, harassment, punishment and hate all because of the color of their skin. Because standing up for what's right, creates a target for those who are wrong.
Constantly having to advocate for my Black children is draining. There's never a day I don't worry, because being Black runs deep and exudes greatness.
Constantly having to advocate for my Black children is draining...but I will continue until my last breath.
Let's not use the pandemic as the only excuse as to why our Black students are failing. The school system has been failing them for decades. I am talking way before Ruby Bridges, Brown vs The Board of Education and mandatory bussing to implement integration. We live in a world that was created on laws that did not include Black people in any capacity. Just think, there’s a law for us to learn, a law for us to vote, a law so that we won’t get lynched, a law so we can be free, the list goes on. So when we discuss the failures of Black students lets not forget that the playing field has never been equal yet alone equitable. Let’s not forget that the parents of many Black students are working in a world full of pay disparities and discrimination, because….they’re Black. If you think it’s normal that in 2021 we are seeing an influx of DEI initiatives, then you may need to read more history. You don’t have to look too far, because history seems to repeat itself and Black people have continued to fight for the same human rights as Whites year after year after year. It is 2021 and we are celebrating the first Black Female Vice President, but I know for a fact that a Black woman should have been in a position to run this country decades ago because we’re the smartest people on the Planet!
I’ll leave you with that.
For those of you that are baffled about the fight for $15 minimum wage, just remember that every day there's a Black woman at your job that is earning thousands of dollars less at her job in comparison to her white colleagues in the exact same position.
I am happy a national light is showing pay disparities in our country. But after the topic becomes unpopular in the news cycle, there will still be pay disparities in the workforce...
What are you prepared to do?
I've personally fought for equal pay, written letters to elected officials, and taken a stand for what I feel is not fair. I am personally tired of being the most qualified, educated and fit for a position but receiving the smallest salary. I am tired of organizations rewarding employees with promotions/raises based on comradery and not skill set.
Knowing your value is key to never settling for lies as to why you can't have more money.
- Kulture Karisma
As a nation, we need to reevaluate the requirements needed for individuals that are selected to teach our children and run our schools.
Far too often I see schools being structured and managed like a business and less like an educational institution. Most educators choose this field not for the financial luxuries but the desire to create change.
Wage disparities, educational disparities, lack of cultural competence, little to no empathy for the communities they serve and believe it or not there are educators that are not fans of children.
This is a general concern, not specific. I have to point this out because as a parent and educator it is often assumed I am always speaking from personal experience. But I am an Educational scholar, which means these issues are bigger than my own experiences. I devote so much of my time trying to research, gain knowledge and help improve such a broken system that is riddled with a history of greed, disparity and systemic racism.
Education is not just a job for me, it's a commitment to dig deeper into the impact and role it has on our lives.