In 5th grade, I had this one teacher who was a monster. Seriously, she was the worst teacher I ever had the misfortune to endure. I am going to refer to her as Ms. W. Ms. W was nasty, rude, unsupportive, and just a down right bitch. There is no other word to describe her. Like most pre teens (actually, I don’t know if this is true anymore considering how some pre teens look like full blown teen agers), I had went through a really shy and awkward phase, then my period came. I remember I had gotten it for the first time during one summer and when my mother found out she was so happy for me. I actually felt the confidence building inside me as my body began its transformation into womanhood. I was proud of my body and uterus! I started 5th grade and when my second period came, I had to tell this treacherous Ms. W so she could excuse me to the bathroom without giving me a hard time. Her reply? “*eye roll* ugh, alright.” Gee, thanks.
To make matters worse, Ms. W was also the teacher who had to inform us on sex education. I want to say this was also the day where she felt the need to bring all the girls from my class to the teacher’s lounge and have “the talk” with us. Now, after her initial reaction, I felt a little embarrassed about me having my period. She wasn’t exactly helpful any other time I tried to reach out. For example, she had given us an assignment on day and told us, “If you are having trouble, let me know.” I was, indeed, having trouble. So, being this shy, little, Spanish girl that I was, in a sea of confident, white students, I decided to get up and bashfully approach her, like a coward animal to its abusive human. Once I reached her, she picked her head up, looked me up and down, and said nothing. I squeaked out the words, “I’m not sure if I’m doing this right,” to which she hissed, “You don’t know what the hell – heck you’re doing!” Obviously, this caught the entire class’ attention. I don’t remember what she did or said after that because I was instantly regretting this decision and I just felt this heavy shame washing over me as I walked and fell into my seat. I NEVER asked another teacher for help ever again.
Now that you have an idea how much this woman really fucked with my head, you can probably imagine how I felt in the teacher’s lounge. I knew whatever she was going to say was going to involve me. Once all the girls were inside, she closed the door behind her and asked, “Who here has started their period?” Being embarrassed and learning from previous experiences with her, I decided to keep my mouth shut and my hand down. One other girl raised her hand while the rest of us just stood there. What did Ms. W go on to say about periods? “Keep that information to yourselves! It is disgusting!” She may have said it to the whole class but me? I felt that she was singling me out. Once again, this manish looking, leather-face-sporting, Ken-doll-hair-cut-wearing bitch managed to rip apart the shred of dignity I had left. She made me feel so ashamed about a natural process that I had no way of controlling. However, whenever another girl had a broken arm, stitches, or a bad cold, she was open ears and even initiated conversations with them while I was treated like a leper.
Along with her shaming my period and discouraging me from ever asking for help again, she also felt the need to stereotype me. This racist bitch! We were in class one day and had gotten into some discussion about things we feel we are no good at. I, foolishly, raised my hand and said, “I’m not good at dancing,” she said, “Not good at dancing?! You’ve got Latin blood! That’s supposed to come naturally!” Thank you, Ms. W! I had no idea that when you were getting certified to teach at a private grammar school, blocks away from the projects, you were also getting your degree on bloodlines and the Latin cultures! Wow! I’m so happy you said that because I never thought of that when my families had parties and everyone around me knew how to cut a rug.
In conclusion, these are the outcomes of writing the body of a post rather than starting with an intro. This post was supposed to be about racism and how I’ve let it just swing by me without really standing up for myself. I literally just started typing and word vomit just came out and I have written 781 already so I’m just going to run with it and post it anyway. Make of it what you will! It’s my blog!
This is what I wish I could have said to her… even just once.
I have noticed some of my friends have become teachers or are trying to find teaching jobs. Word of advice, be careful what you say to your students. You hold A LOT of power in your hands because you spend so much time with them and you are supposed to teach them, build their confidence, encourage them, and guide them. Tread carefully with your words… or expect a similar rant about you just like this one from a former student.