Were You Scared?

An excerpt from my recent Luna Luna publication:

“What’s it like to work with a bunch of black kids, Ms. Marcus? You know, urrrrban kids?”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

And he says, “Were you scared?”

I think for a moment. I say that I had never been in a situation where I needed to discipline anyone before. That when I taught college and someone wasn’t behaving right and I asked them to leave, they would just leave and go wherever adults go when you kick them out of your classroom. “But I am responsible for you. It’s different, I say. I’m responsible for keeping you safe—for keeping you in my classroom. I was scared to discipline you, because I didn’t know how.

I tell them a story about my first day teaching high school when, after I asked him to move seats, a very tall male student sneered, “You think you’re the fucking queen of the classroom.” I told them that he went on aggressively like this, standing over me, for what felt like several minutes. How I stood there like a deer in headlights watching, waiting for another teacher to step in and rescue me. How I immediately knew that this was the wrong choice. (I don’t explain to them how this power dynamic felt so impossibly heavy in that moment. How when he said “queen of the classroom,” I heard “white,” and was mortified for a million reasons.)

Read the full essay HERE.

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