I Am What I Am

…a reflection on being a minority, a light & evolving by Stacey James McAdoo…

(The featured image,”Evolution”, is a digitally altered photograph by Leron McAdoo.)

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a minority. I’m not talking about a “minority minority” in terms of ethnicity and race. Although statistically I’m labeled and viewed within my state and country as a minority, the truth is, within the intimate circles of which I often dance and because of the overall segregation of our neighborhoods, public schools, and churches, in those spaces my ethnic status almost always feels and matches how I refer to myself racially — as a member of the world majority. It is only when I’m operating in and out of policy, systems, and rationales do I feel that pull…that separation…that minority sting.

The minority I’m talking about here is a minority in almost every other sense of the word, but especially in terms of thought, economic power and as a systemic influencer. With the exception of a few instances and experiences, for the majority of the nearly sixteen thousand revolutions I’ve made around the sun, most days I have felt like my existence runs parallel to, above, below and sometimes intersects with the thoughts, views and existence of mainstream middle-class America.

Sitting on my mom’s curio cabinet is a framed picture simply of my first name. Underneath the picture is the word “prosperous” followed by Psalms 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear”. That picture and one of my momma’s most popular refrain, “you can take the girl outta the projects, but you can’t take the projects outta the girl,” are probably what gave me the strength to be comfortable with always being in the minority. And although she was/is often tone policed and chastised for her syntax and diction, the messages that she instilled in me rang loud and clear: Who you are and where you come from is what makes you special. Your goal is not to be a part of this world; you were born to be a light in it.

If there’s one thing that history, mainstream media and being a minority have taught me, it’s that if I want my truth to be shared I have to be the one to do the telling. This blog (www.stillstacey.com) was created with that premise in mind. It is not only my platform of accountability and personal reflection, it (like all of my @2019ATOY social media handles) is my official book of record and documentation of my existence – unfiltered and told in my own words.

***

 My father-in-love (who has come a long way from the home with no running water and an outhouse on Bluebird in Lebanon, Tennessee that his father built with his own hands) once sincerely asked me if he was that far removed from a particular community issue we were discussing that he didn’t quite understand. Year after year I’ve sat in meetings and professional development from “experts” and former classroom practitioners who at times seem to have forgotten (or perhaps never truly knew) what it was like on the other side. From both of these examples I’ve learned that it doesn’t take a long time of being on the outside to sometimes have difficulty identifying with and/or forgetting what it’s like for those still inside.

As I begin my year of service as the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, it is my sincere hope that I remain the Stacey my mother worked so hard to raise — someone who is comfortable in her skin, who isn’t ashamed of her mistakes or her past, who doesn’t forget where she comes from…and someone who will have the courage to continue to evolve while letting her light shine, especially when she’s in the minority and things all around her look dim.

***

*Stacey James McAdoo, the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year (affectionately referred to as 2019ATOY), is a 16 year Oral Communication instructor, AVID Coordinator and sponsor of the spoken word collective called Writeous Poets from Little Rock, Arkansas. She teaches at the historic Little Rock Central High School where she is the living embodiment of her ATOY platform of using passion and poetry to close the opportunity gap.*

Please like, share, and leave a comment below. I would love to hear how you muster up the courage and/or what you do to push through when you’re in the minority.

11 thoughts on “I Am What I Am

  1. Love, love, love this!!! There is so much I can relate to in this piece. I wish you all the best in your year of service. Thank you for using your voice and telling your story. ❤️

    Like

    1. Thanks Sarahi!! It’s comforting to know that you are on standby if I need you. So don’t be alarmed if I show up in Wisconsin knocking on doors looking for you if I need refuge or back-up!

      Like

  2. “You are meant to be a light in it”. I LOVE that! 💖 My mom would always say “Do your best.” My dad would always say, “Give ‘em heck, Boomsma!” And then he would hit me on the back! I still get that from him!

    Their words were straight to the point and powerful! So are yours, my friend!

    Like

      1. Oh yeah!! I say the same thing to my kids! In fact, my Nick tells me that every time I have to go speak! Give em heck, mom!! Ha!!!

        Enjoy Europe, Stacey!
        Give em heck!!!

        Like

  3. Great read. What pushes me in moments of feeling like the minority is the manifestation of the “magical” impact made when I keep placing one foot in front of the next toward a challenge. I don’t run from challenges. When I’m balanced and my goals are reaffirmed daily I get focused all the more on not the minority but the purpose and my passion.

    I love how you shared never forget where you come from. That point of reference has help give me precision in many aspects of my life.

    Like

  4. Thank you for reading and sharing! Balance and focus are definitely prerequisites for facing and slaying challenges!

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  5. I am so glad that you choose to share your inner most thoughts with your readers about how you grew up and what truly matters to you the most. Please keep sharing I will keep reading and getting inspired to keep teaching.

    Like

  6. Beautifully written. I’m from where I’m from… I was raised how I was raised… and at the end of the day, I am who I am!

    Like

    1. Thanks JEM. I hope you always remember to shine bright like a diamond and that you are enough. Periodt.

      Like

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