On Thursday September 17 around 7:30 am, I was sitting at my desk waiting for a call from the CBC Metro Morning Radio Show for an interview.
Another teacher and I were being interviewed about some of the equity work we have had the privilege of doing and leading in our schools and communities.
As I was refreshing my Skype application, not having used it in ages, I felt nervous, excited but also calm.
When I was first contacted by the Producer, he said he was interested in the work I was doing and had looked at my website. I think I blinked a few times, refreshed the page and read the email 5 times to make sure it was real.
I was in disbelief. Why would the CBC Metro Morning want to interview me?
The day before the interview, I had collected my thoughts on a paper. I was nervous and wanted to make sure my message was clear and strong. I was shocked and humbled that I was even asked to speak. Truthfully, I did not really understand the enormity of this platform (even though my sister who knows these things, told me). I only really believed it when a few of my Highschool teachers and others contacted me to say kind words and commented on my social media posts.
At around 7:40, the Director called me and checked my sound. In the background I could hear the host speaking. This is when the nerves kicked in, the butterflies in my stomach were rumbling. I was nervous, excited and immediately panicked. Would I even have something interesting to say? Would I even be able to get any words out? Would they be articulate? Would my message be clear? Would my voice shake? Would I faint? Would everyone be able to hear the butterflies in my stomach or see my hand shaking?
As I started talking, my body relaxed. My commitment to equity work took over and relaxed me. As I sat in my chair, I hoped that I spoke my heart out.
'Speaking Out' or 'having a spot at the table' has not always been easy. Often, because of my visible identities I experience systemic oppression as well as microaggressions, othering and exclusion. These experiences remind me of the cultural and social capital that I do not always have. 'Access' has not always been easy or 'something' I can claim. Truthfully, at the end of the day I am a racialzied visible Muslim woman trying to navigate these very very new spaces. It is hard and can be isolating carrying the weight on your shoulders. My experiences in the world, often make me feel introverted, reserved and check my surroundings before I feel comfortable or 'let my guard down'. I am grateful for my family, friends and mentors who continue to support me and my work endlessly. All those who have 'always' seen something in me especially when I did not see it in myself.
Considering this, to be asked to speak on CBC Metro Morning show was surreal for me. The experience is humbling, has reaffirmed and validated my commitment to equity work. It has helped me believe and 'see' that I am making a small change. A small difference to hopefully help work towards creating a fair and caring society. It has helped me think critically about my commitment specifically to the power of stories and ensuring that the ones we share with students are assessed through an equity lens. When people share the stories that have been recommended, I feel incredibly happy thinking that, 'that' book made a different in someone's life. My hope is that someone felt represented or learned about another. That they 'see' each other's shared humanity.
And this makes me want to continuing learning, teaching, sharing and 'speaking'.
The following quote has become sort of a mantra in mu life,
"When I am afraid to speak is when I must speak, it is when it is most important".
The truth is, I am often scared and nervous to speak, to share but somehow I encourage myself to keep walking on this road.