This past week I got to spend time with two of my old teachers. (Yay!) They were visiting from Atlanta to participate in the Bell Hook’s Scholar- In- Residence activities. Bell Hooks is an important figure in the feminist world. She’s written a number of consciousness shifting books after the intersection of blackness & feminism & patriarchy. She cowrote “Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life” with Dr. Cornel West,who also partook in the dialogue the other day. If you aren’t familiar with their work, you should look them up.
Anyways, this isn’t about Bell Hooks or Cornel West (though they’re both incredibly insightful), but about the impact of having amazing teachers. Martha, (at my school we called our teachers by their first name) was my 7th & 8th grade teacher. She encouraged us to employ our critical thinking skills and created a class culture dedicated to us becoming leaders. Our class was governed by a class government, which as middle schoolers, made us feel powerful beyond belief. We even were able to travel to Washington, DC to lobby our state representative to not participate in the Iraq war.
Oman, another teacher at my school, was never officially my teacher, but was so inviting and open that I would hang out in his room throughout high school. He’s an anti- racism and anti-patriarchy activist, who facilitated classroom discussions about just that. Both Martha and Oman would later team up and have a business to create change, becoming diversity consultants, for teachers.
Besides these two teachers, I have been extremely lucky to have a number of other influential and important teachers, faculty and other mentors. Since my school spanned from kindergarten to high school, I’ve had constant people throughout majority of my life. Many of whom have offered their support for years and have helped in various ways, ranging from visiting their art studios to gain inspiration, to supporting me on a scholarship committee to secure funding to go abroad.
I’m a firm believer that you put out what you take in. If you make sure that the people you surround yourself with are all driven and are reaching towards smilier goals, then your entire team will be stronger for it.
Talk to your teachers. Invite them out to coffee. Ask them questions. They want to help you, that’s why they’re teachers. Of course, not all professors will be as open as others, but if you connect with a particular teacher keep in contact. Their wealth of knowledge extends far beyond the pages of a textbook or the walls of classroom. Who knows, maybe the will be the one to help land your dream job or internship, or, at the very least, offer to past for your dinner whenever you go to visit (after you complete their class of course, you gotta work for that free meal)!
All things Color, Love, & Fashion,