Yeah…I’m still black. #japan

I always wondered when the other shoe would drop, when reality would sink in, when I would become not just a foreigner living abroad… but a black woman living in Japan. February 23, 2017 the date I will never forget, the date when I introduced a new textbook to my sweet, innocent, curious, lovable fourth graders and they all burst into hysterics when they turned to page 216 of their new textbooks and saw the cartoon drawing of Ben Carson.  The day no one would answer my question, “why is this picture so funny?”

Of course I knew the answer, but I was wondering if they knew the reason why their laughter was offensive, if they knew that what they were doing was wrong?  With the language barrier I sometimes like to wait and see how they process things, I don’t like to jump the gun and make assumptions. It wasn’t until my partner teacher (whose been working at the school much longer than I have been) walked in, heard the laughter, observed the expression on my face , and made a valiant attempt at damage control, that I snapped back into reality. I resumed class as I normally would have, and we had a great time writing stories and playing English games. However, the entire time there was something stirring in the back of my mind, a familiar feeling that I just couldn’t shake. A fact that I was certain of in America, and is proving true as I live my life abroad: no matter where I go in this world, I will always be black.

I love being black. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. I love my black skin, nappy hair, ancestry, and rich culture. What amazes me, even though it shouldn’t, is the worldwide misconception that being a black person is the last thing in the world one should want to be. To have to come home after work and ruminate on how I can express to my young students, in love, that black people aren’t the negative stereotypes that the media have made us out to be. That we aren’t caricatures to be laughed at and mocked, that we are a strong and proud people that have made numerous contributions to society. It’s exhausting, and tonight it feels like way more than I can deal with. But, I will drink a glass of cabernet, say a prayer, and hope that God gives me the strength and wisdom to impart some knowledge on my students tomorrow.

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“You’ve Got the Chops for It, Girl.”

Sometimes it’s nice to see things through someone else’s eyes. 🙂

Ps I have been teaching in Japan for the past several months.

My Favorite Things

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Ms. Hall, one of the PSE 4th grade teachers. After observing her teach for a few days we began team-teaching, during which I studied GrapeSEED curriculum in order to familiarize myself with the songs, stories, chants, and games. While I find working with K4 students mentally and physically draining (despite their cuteness), teaching fourth graders was absolutely invigorating.These students have greater capacity to understand larger concepts, contribute ideas to discussions, and add their own spicy personalities to the environment. Additionally, because they are older, they know more English, making communication much easier. I still have to give step-by-step instructions and speak slowly, but I don’t have to spend so much mental energy simplifying my speech.I don’t really have many pictures of 4th grade because I was otherwise occupied, so you’ll have to take my word…

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Taking the challenge…

I made a decision today to take the first steps toward strengthening my creative writing muscle. Not poetry, but prose. This is both exciting and nerve-racking to me, as I am my own biggest critic (who isn’t though, amiright?) Anyway, I stumbled upon a post that challenged me to write just a paragraph with the only stipulation being that it must end with, “He would give anything to turn the clock back five minutes.” So, challenge accepted! Is it great? probably not, but it is a start, and I am happy and proud of myself for actually writing something and not just talking about it for once! So without further ado, I introduce to you my paragraph:

In the grand scheme of things Aaron knew that Sera wasn’t asking for much. She didn’t need him to profess his undying love for her, she wasn’t waiting for a proposal of marriage, she wasn’t even looking for an invitation of cohabitation. What she needed was a simple proclamation of support so she knew that she would not have to bare the weight of this circumstance alone. But even with this heavy decision hanging in the balance, the only thing Aaron knew how to do was look only at how his life would be affected, what this meant for the future of his career and how this would alter the plan that he had constructed for himself. And without even considering Sera, he let the words escape from his mouth before realizing the gravity of each syllable he uttered, “If you decide to go through with this, I can’t guarantee that I will be there for you. “ As he sat in silence with full understanding of what he said falling on him like a ton of bricks, he realized that the damage he had done to Sera was irreparable and their relationship had no chance of survival. He would have given anything to turn back the clock five minutes.

Please feel free to comment, critique, or guffaw below. ツ

Writer’s Block

The blank page stares at me, mocking me as I attempt to formulate ideas. I take a sip of water and twirl my coils slowly between my fingers as I will and idea to spring forth from my mind and flow freely from the tip of my pencil. Yet and still, I sit here vexed with my mind hovering between this idea and that. Why are words escaping me, and more importantly, why can’t I settle on any solid ideas? I don’t understand. I’m no spring chicken, I have a myriad of experiences from which to pull but none of them seem quite right for the task at hand. So I will think, I will write, I will try–but if all else fails, I will go to bed and try again tomorrow.

My Sister

She’s the cool one

without even trying

no need to backtrack

no need to rewind

Just to spend time in the wake of her shine

I need to take notes- learn how to make me..intrinsically mine.

There’s so much to be learned from a credible source

dealt with the worst hits

including what’s mine and what’s yours.

I love her not only because of our mutual source

but we share the same thoughts and that’s implicitly ours.

I look to her  as a light to my dark

and when she speaks, I know it comes from the heart.

This is totally raw, completely off the cuff

when she corrects my wrongs, it’s legit..no intentions involved.

Making me the best because her love is so strong.

I want to do my best even when I look weak

because I know even at my worst, in me she believes.

There’s so many ill-wishers, trying to break our bond

but there’s no room for negative, our love is so strong

#mysister

Reflection of a Teacher

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”-Niklos Kazantzakis

Oftentimes I find myself trying to encourage my students to trust me/the process enough to cross the bridge. A lot of students feel vulnerable or
exposed in Literacy because unlike other subject areas, there are often no definitive answers in writing or even reading analysis or comprehension. The exhaustion I experience comes from teaching them how to explore and trust their instincts as readers and writers.

Changes

Haiku Challenge Day #2.   Focusing in the new things taking place in my life…

A new point of view

Causing changes in my life

Discovering me

An Opus to Me

I’ve always been the cool  chick

so down with the cause

Never been considered sexy until

sitting down, talking to me and clawing through my thoughts.

I’m reclusive by nature

although I may come off a socialite–

talking, laughing, joking and agreeing with your sights,

Whether it be women’s lib or civil rights

but the truth of the matter is that I’m screaming inside,

“NO, I do NOT agree,”

and the fact that I sacrifice my me-ness

for YOU

says a lot about ME.

It’s time to grow

to change

take a stand for who I am

even if it means that figuring ME out

does not go according to YOUR plan.

See, I am who I am

and I’ll be who I be

as long as at the end of

the day, I’ll still be in love with me.

So many years spent catering to other souls

Never wondering what it takes in fact

to make ME whole.

But I suppose that’s what happens

when you come in close encounter with my age.

You see yourself for less than YOU

and it fills you with rage.

So–I’ll be selfish for this time

to establish who I am

and when I’m done, it will take

a special audience to groove to my jam…

Determined

Making an attempt at joining the Haiku Challenge…
This is an observational piece of one of my most intriguing students, he truly is an enigma wrapped in a mystery.Here goes…:

Sitting with focus
Hands against head in deep thought
He will pass this test

Hashtag #HaikuChallenge

This will be quite the challenge, but I will certainly try!

HEIDI J on the LOOSe

Just as I was about to fall asleep last night, I had this intense urge to write a bunch of Haikus. And I had this thought:

One Hundred Haikus

Instead of Status Updates

New Writing Challenge.

Seriously though, how cool would it be if we just started replacing our tweets and Facebook updates with daily silly, dirty, goofy, sappy, wacky, witty, emotional and even radical haikus and we just flood the interwebs with micropoetry?! People won’t even see it coming, all the sudden, all over their newsfeeds it will be like BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM 5-7-5: Poems FROM everyone, FOR everyone. Literally, Poetry, Everywhere (on the internet). Then I looked up #HaikuChallenge on Twitter

and obviously it is already a thing! I’m just the last to know about it!

It’s not that surprising though, even though I have a degree in Creative Writing, I have never been that up to…

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