I’ve been a creator most of my life. Professionally, though that journey started in 2012.
As a Black teacher, I can honestly tell you that it has been quite a journey to finding my way into a position where my ideas and work are respected. There were years where I literally felt that I was boxed out of opportunities. Maligned and left out with intentionality. There were other times where concepts that were mine were stolen and repurposed. My work was promoted as someone else’s–so that it would get received better.
I have heard every excuse for the confusion. For the misinterpretation.
You are taught to believe that if you’re just ‘nice’ about it. People will like you better.
There’s no amount of ‘nice that will make people respect you when your work has the capacity to gain white people influence or capital. None.Tamara Russell
There’s no amount of ‘nice’ that will make people respect you when your work has the capacity to gain white people influence or capital. None.
So you learn to find your community. Those who you can share freely with who will honor your work and support it. You find people who are like minded who root for you when you’re down. They remind you that you are valid and worthy of celebration. That your presence and purpose are POWERFUL.
The right people know that when they learn from you, there is no statute of limitation on reminding people that if they see something in your work…that you got it from someone else.
Giving credit is what you do when you really honor and respect the work that the original creator has done. At a certain point, when you’re being applauded for the knock-off…you forget that the original idea came from someone else and you re-center on the idea that THIS PART. This riff you created from the original song IS the work…because you are contributing.
This is how white supremacy culture works. It’s in this posture that copycats present themselves as shocked and hurt because you as the creator spoke out. One of my ‘favorite’ postures is victimization. As if you could be a victim when you have clearly created an idea off someone else and then arbitrarily decided when you get to stop saying…’I really got this idea from BIPoC folks who honestly have taught me just about everything I know about teaching outside of the dominant culture.
So much of the good in me as a teacher is a credit to the people who I have surrounded myself with. I am so deeply thankful for them and will forever remind myself and them of their impact. I learned so much about believing in my own abilities from Fran Warren over at @theeducatorsroom. I learned to believe in the power of my writing from @angelawatson and @mohawkmommaloves. I learned the joy of interior decorating and coffee drink mixing from @itsmoniquesworld.
I learned the power of organizing in my local and the importance of being a unionist leader from @ohgorgeous1 and @gretacallahan. I have learned how interrogate my biases from @asmahanmashara. I’ve learned too that Asma’s sister @shaybakes makes the best cookies in the world! Tooley over at @growingwithmxt, and Ace @teachingoutsidethebinary have celebrated my love of Marvel and taught me so much about growing in my awareness of transfolx. @ms.christinacosta has taught me to kiss my brain and keep looking for ways to shine even when the days look dark.
Michelle at @theignitedteach has taught me so many concrete math strategies for my students. She has also taught me how to build my brand using technology. Dia @elementaryedventure has shared more books with me than I can count. I thank you sis. Naomi and Lanesha @readlikearockstarteaching and @apron_education have blazed so many trails in the world of teaching and being rooted in justice, that’s a whole other post. @sarahplumitallo taught me to advocate unapologetically and to live my own truth.
Trina at @freshoutofinspiration has taught me that I can laugh even when I’m sad and that my joy is resistance. Allie over at @_missbehavior has taught me more strategies to manage my responses to classroom behavior than I can count. Sarah @thedesignerteacher’s beautiful creative spirit reminds me consistently that there is more to life than teaching and that there is everything RIGHT with leaving when the time is right. I am so proud of her living her dreams! There are so many IG pages that have taught me about being inclusive of indigenous voices–of Asian voices. Pages that have taught me about the intersectionality of Christianity and justice work. This post is already so long…but I just want to say…there are so, so many of you every day that have encouraged me and made me better as a person and an educator.
I say that to say this. There is everything right about always holding a place for the sum of your parts. There is always beauty in acknowledging the pieces that have come together to make you great. The minute you stop acknowledging who helped grow you? You become part of the same system that benefits from stealing the work of BIPoC creatives. I’m not going to waste time or give traffic to white folks who are currently engaged in parading around profiting off of selling and promoting resources about the global majority. I’ll say this though. The community knows who did what. The community knows who planted those ideas. Your unseasoned TPT products and Astrobrights laden photos do not make you culturally responsive or relevant. It does however expose your privilege.