Tag Archives: reflection

Houston, We’ve made Contact – BEDA Day 5 of 31

Houston, We’ve Made Contact!

(The story behind meeting my first reader)

BEDA Day 5 of 31

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So. Out of the blue.

A reader friend emailed me and asked to link up.

I was shocked man! That’s never happened before.

Like I see the numbers and the ticker behind here move with the different posts. But I never really imagined folks were reading and following the journey like that.

Part of me didn’t feel worthy. Like do you know that this is just me? Little ole me. Little Paladin from Chicago.

He said my blog had helped him through his first year teaching. And that my voice, our voices were something that was missing from the scene.

Man, I’m SO thirsty to find those voices past and present that match my own. Those voices that create the noise that I want and need to hear. The voices that break through the jungle and clear a path that help all of us grow.

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I am absolutely down to meet up and link with you bro!Tell me when and tell me where.

He was here in Brooklyn, and we set up to meet the very next day. Which happened to be yesterday.We decided on a small coffee shop here by the Brooklyn Museum. I was of course running late so I hopped in a cab, that dropped me at the corner instead of my destination. At first I was having a hard time finding the exact…. spot I was supposed to be. After a couple minutes of orienting myself I finally stepped into the deep bodied Breukelen Coffee House.

 

There at a small table sat the young black man. We shook hands, smiled, and introduced each other by our first names. I was definitely nervous. And I don’t get nervous for much.

I asked him to repeat how he pronounced his name. It was an interesting combination of sounds. But I locked it in my mind and finally felt composed enough for whatever was to follow.

My reader friend is a second year teacher. He said that my voice resonated with him as a first year teacher. I was shocked because I knew I half-way hadn’t posted, consistently, in over 2 years. I didn’t feel worthy of his praise and attention.

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I was felt smiley and giggly, and nervous and anxious, fidgety and somewhere toward the end of our 15 to 20 minute encounter I say I finally found my confidence and transitioned to my normal long winded, overly confident self. It’s kinda my thing if y’all haven’t noticed, LoL

He said my blog had answered many of his initial questions.
He had questions written in his phone.
He asked me about my thoughts and reflections as an educator.
He asked about advice I would give him going into his second year.
He asked me about the future of the blog.
To which… I shared there are immediate plans to update my online presence. 

He seemed like he had his shit to-gether!

It was so surreal y’all. So so so surreal. (Reflecting back… it’s such a blessing)

I wanna create that feeling and that connection a million times over. I wasn’t ready. Or better yet, I was caught off guard. But I will be better prepared next time.

Is it selfish of me to want y’all, my peers to have that moment a million times over, too? Pause for the people that do already. But, can’t we all do more to pave the road for our…future selves?

At one point my reader friend said that he had thought about creating a space to discuss and share his own journey. He stumbled on my blog and didn’t feel the need to do that anymore. This was actually the moment that I pulled myself out of that magical trance-like state I was in. I implored that it was still important for him to create the spaces he thought were missing.

It’s our mission. I want to challenge all my peers to do so in some way.

Leave your mark. Give us a journey we can follow.

We want to follow it!

I promise you we do.

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Message to Lil Homie: You ‘re the answer bro! You are so ready and are so powerful and knowledgeable already just even in who you are. You absolutely are giving your students the powerful education and leadership they need and deserve. Teaching gets better. But also you must get better! Perfect your learner self. Perfect your teacher self.

That Black Men’s Group you want to run. Here are the books you may want to use for programming and curriculum.

Courtland Lee, Saving the Native Son: Empowerment Strategies for Young Black Males – Has ready to go curricula for individuals looking to facilitate groups for Black men and boys of all ages.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me – Great Narrative that can be used to dissect and discuss America and its cultures of Blackness and Whiteness.

Keep reaching out to learn from those that inspire you. That is the move that shows me that you’re great!

Much Respect!
Paladin

Gay Life 101

Man…

I don’t even know what to say about this here. Most firstly… I would like to say… that I never ever talk about my gay life. Not because I’m shy or like closeted. Because I don’t consider myself to be. I mean people know… The reason I never talk about my gay life is because there’s not shit going on in it to talk about. My gay life is the complete anti-thesis to my professional/academic lives. Or the sides most frequently shown here.

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I wouldn’t even know where to start in breaking down how things have been for me in my years here in life. For me, at least currently it makes sense to start with simple questions and to develop the clearest picture for you, and really more for myself by speaking to you this way.

What is it like to be gay?

Hell I don’t even know really. Some times I feel like I’ve had a very unique experience. Other times I feel like my experience is indicative of culture in which I operate. While I don’t want to fall into the trap of generalizing and compartmentalizing the members of this culture. I will say that personally, I feel as though I participate in some variation of urban black gay culture. I have very few if any ties or connections to the larger mainstream gay culture shared across the country.

I don’t know how to break that descriptor down cleanly in a way that would make sense to you or I. However, I would have to say urban black gay culture is a multi-faceted collective of experiences that in some way shape or form bind me and my black/diaspora gay brothers across the globe.. It encompasses individuals from all regions of the black queer and lgbt community. As a member of the black-gay community, I find that still even to this day, I’m finding myself in new and different experiences that can sometimes make me uncomfortable, or really show my natural prejudice to my predefined norms and comfort zones.

Its taken me many years of reflection and development to understand how my sexuality intersects with the other facets of my personhood that make up the whole of who I am. Until recently, I’ve felt like my sexuality was working in opposition to everything else going on in my life. While the opposition itself had been difficult to comprehend, I would say the more difficult chore has been getting to a place where I can recognize this incongruence, yet still find the love and esteem within myself to still work to create the world I want for myself.

My sexuality had become something that I operated around. It was an obstacle that I detoured around for years, not understanding why there seemed to be so many inherent differences and misappropriations between my black and male self, and my gay self. I was talking to an associate the other day, explaining this story for one of the first times. Early into my monologue he interrupted and said – “What do you mean you have a black self and a gay self? Shouldn’t they be one in the same?”

To which I responded – For me not really. I mean my gay self is full of… failure, most of the other pieces of myself are filled with success or confidence, or stability… Its take me a minute to accept this as a type of balance that I experience in my life.

He pushed back, “I learned to love myself a long time ago.”

I tried to hear him. I wasn’t quick enough to share it with him, but… its taken me a while to figure out how to really love myself. Sometimes I feel like people aren’t really trying to hear that. As though they’ve fully loved themselves from day one. Its been a journey for me. I still struggle with the idea that I have reached my adulthood and still failed to harmoniously integrate my gay identity as fully with my other parts of being.

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I’ve struggled honestly since SkoolHaze’s inception to think about how my sexuality would play in the contents of this record. I look forward to seeing how this extension will serve this space.

Share your thoughts below.

Skoolhaze