Jaymie Paige Stein Green
I'M NOT SORRY FOR BEING AN UNABASHED IDEALIST, A PROGRESSIVE INNER CITY ART EDUCATOR, AND A JEWISH FEMINIST.
I’m not sorry for being Jewish. I’m not sorry for giving my family members, friends, and students guilt-trips when I need to because I have a Jewish heart and my heart is full of empathy, love, loyalty, and a sense of justice. I’m not sorry for cutting coupons and finding bargains because I am an informed and socially conscious shopper. I’m not sorry for being frugal with my money because it enables me to be generous with those I love. I’m not sorry for the downward tip at the front of my nose because it identifies me as a Jew and I am proud of my culture. I’m not sorry for my hips, which could be considered to be out of proportion with the rest of my body, because they are beautiful. Most of all, I’m not sorry for continuing to remind others about the oppression Jews have faced and continue to face.
I have no interest in attending “The Oppression Olympics” where people try to quantify suffering in academic settings, at a dinner party, or on social media. I don’t believe that will get us anywhere. Though, I am grateful for continued dialogues about oppression because it helps me be an ally for other groups I am not a part of. One way I link disparate communities together is by working in a community that may not appear to be my own, and claim it as my own. Racism and anti-Semitism are rooted in hate. My teaching and my commitment to the world are rooted in love. I can only speak about my own suffering and try my best to use the experiences that have caused my suffering in order to empathize with others, in particular, my students and their families.
Yet, there exists a serious sense of apathy in our country toward teachers. Chris Christie does not have a clue as to what I, or any other schoolteacher, do everyday. It is strange to be worshipped in one world, but ridiculed in another. I’m not sorry Chris Christie, for teaching to the whole child and not the test. I’m not sorry for prioritizing creativity instead of computations, because I am teaching my babies to be problem solvers and critical thinkers. I’m not sorry for believing that the experiences of teachers need to influence education policy more than politicians because they see the long term needs for their students while politicians see the short term interests for themselves.
I’m not sorry for telling my students I love them everyday because they deserve to hear that, and it’s the truth. I’m not sorry for encouraging my elementary students to tell each other they love each other after we meditate together because I am helping to raise sensitively aware citizens and empathetic friends. I’m not sorry for teaching my students that beauty is love, and that it is more important than test scores, because I am helping my students to see the world with a profound awareness.
Beauty being love is a metaphor that is part of my constitution as an educator, but also as a Feminist, and I’m certainly not sorry for being a Feminist. I’m not sorry for reminding people around me that when they call people bitches, it is wrong because it is a word rooted in offending others based on female identity. I’m not sorry for calling people out when they say things like, “You throw like a girl,” as an insult. The phrase is another example of oppressive sexism in our world. I’m not sorry for choosing both girls and boys to carry boxes when I need help in the art studio classroom because they learn that all people, no matter what their sex, are capable of anything.
I’m not sorry for giving girls blue prizes and boys pink prizes as rewards because I remind my students in this subtle way that they are not supposed to like a certain color based on their gender. I’m not sorry for constantly bringing up how much money woman make compared to men with my middle school students because they need to know that woman and men are still not equal. I’m not sorry for fighting for marriage equality and equal rights within marriage. I’m not sorry for fighting for autonomy of our bodies as woman against rape and violence.
I'm not sorry that as a Jewish, Feminist, Educator, I will be a part of a revolution that Donald fucking Trump cannot ignore.
I'm not sorry for being an unabashed idealist, a progressive inner city art educator, and a Jewish feminist.
About the photo:
My grandmother grew up in Paterson, so I always knew I was destined to teach there. The photos were taken at the school where I teach and at the Great Falls, in the city where my roots run deep.