You are playing the race card. You do not want to be the crazy mother. You do not want too much attention drawn to your children. It has nothing to do with race. You are overreacting and the critics will continue when you are fighting for your children to have the same rights as children of white privilege in the US.
Advocating for your children might not change the system completely but it will change the way the closed-minded educator that thought you did not have a voice looks at you. Now he knows you will be heard.
I am a single mother of two, a five-year-old boy five and a twelve-year-old girl. I am their only advocate. Advocating for my children is my biggest and most important job, but in the eyes of some, I am just crazy. I grew up with little to no support from my parents, making the probability of my success minor. I wish my mother were the crazy parent that spoke up every time the system put me down. I wish my parents made a big deal about not being able to register me in a decent school due to my race. I have never been the person to play victim. I have raised up with the little push that given to me and if you ask me, I have turned out to be one heck of a woman. To be honest, I was not aware of how systematic racism has affected my life, but what I did learn is how to protect my children against it.
I moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, from New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 2018. The first district that my children attended was Council Rock. My daughter had a hard time learning the culture, but the staff was polite and professional. In January 2019 I moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania. This is a beautiful small city and it has one of the best school districts in the state. Registration for my daughter was tough. Even though I provided all the documents, the registrar stated that my daughter was Spanish and her neighborhood school did not provide ESL services. I explained to her that my daughter spoke English and that Spanish is not her first language. In fact, it is not even her second. The girl can’t speak Spanish! I contacted her previous teacher and she explained that my daughter is fluent in English and her academic problems are due to ADHD, not a language barrier.
When I was informed of the school that she was going to attend, I called to make an appointment to meet the staff and have a tour around the school. They gave me a tour on January 11. I did not meet the teacher or the principal on that date and the secretary did the tour and told me she would call with a bus number. I did not receive a call with the assigned teacher, but I received a call from the bus company giving me the time and bus stop for my daughter.
A week went by and I never heard from my daughter’s new teacher. On January 25, I received an email from the teacher stating that she wrote a report because a student told her that my daughter threatened another student. I asked my daughter whether that was the truth and my daughter said, “Mom, I’m the new girl. I do not know anyone.”
I emailed the teacher back and requested a meeting because I wanted to address the issue and I wanted to meet her. She never responded. I called on Monday to request a meeting with the principal. I was unable to get in touched with him. On Tuesday I went in person, and that made the principal upset. He screamed at me as if I were his child. I demanded to meet the teacher and I was told by the principal, “She will not meet you. She is scared of you.” That’s when I concluded that my family was racially profiled and by standing up for my child instead of staying quiet, I was classified as a threat.
I proceeded to contact the superintendent as I was being yelled at, and he contacted me right away. When the principal finally realized that I was on the phone with the superintendent, his tone changed and the teacher had time to meet me after all. I had other bad experiences and the racial profiling has not stopped, but I can tell you that they have no choice but to treat this crazy mother and her two children with respect.
I want to set an example to those parents who stay quiet because they always get shut down by the system. Educate yourself on how to advocate for your children and remember that you are their biggest support to give them a better chance to succeed. If you are not the crazy parent, they will get away with dismissing your children’s needs and they will continue to practice their bias.
We, Too, Are America is made possible through “Democracy and the Informed Citizen,” an initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Council through a grant from the Mellon Foundation.