“But everyone wears ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish’ shirts and none of them get suspended!” I was yelling back.
“Don’t wear it again.”
I was livid. The audacity! It was one thing to be miffed about the shirt and complain in the teachers lounge; it was quite another to threaten disciplinary action against me, an honors student, that could inform my ability to get into undergraduate programs or participate in extra curricular activities.
When I told my mother that evening, she was just as pissed. Since my mother had worked in education for 20 years and had friends at the Cincinnati Enquirer, it didn’t take long to get a story together. When the newspaper asked the principal for a comment, he declined. My mother made sure I wore that shirt at least once a week for the rest of the year.
These sorts of micro aggressions — whereby no one’s screaming that they hate black people, but they’re upset that people of color acknowledge their difference in a way that isn’t self-depricating — are incredibly common. You can be proud of being Irish on St. Patrick’s Day — or play at being Irish on St. Patrick’s Day — but in my world, there was no fun celebration of black people....