The treatment of students of color in the United States would shock anybody who's unfamiliar with it. It's no surprise to me, of course, since I've been through it already. And it's a big reason why I am the vocal and unrelenting way that I am to this very day:
Because of teachers like Ms. Kurchin in the 1st grade who yelled at me because my mother couldn't make it to chaperone a class trip, then instructed my classmates to sarcastically chant "Thanks, DaiQuan" at me for something out of my control.
Because of teachers like Ms. Giordano in the 4th grade who called me to the center of the classroom to check my homework assignment, snatched my notebook out of my hands and tossed it across the room upon finding out that it was incomplete, and then instructed my classmates to laugh at me until I made it back to my seat.
Because of teachers like Ms. Cardinali in the 5th grade who mocked me for pleading not to be held after class with a group of other kids who misbehaved that day because I had to go to a funeral, to which she had no sympathy.
Because of teachers like Mr. Stephen Cook, Jr. in the 7th grade who promised classmates of mine passing grades if they'd fight disruptive students for him, called us "retarded beyond retarded", and sold sports jerseys and played action movies in class every day for semesters on end instead of educating the students placed under his charge.
Because of teachers like Mrs. Diana Schiro (née Bergfeld) in the 10th grade who told her classroom full of black students that we were sensitive for taking the word "nigger" offensively in the 21st Century or by expressing, on another occasion, that she didn't need her job as much as we - her students - needed to learn her material because "I'm white," she proclaimed.
Because of the black sellout teachers like Mr. Todmann, who I also had in the 10th grade, telling me to my face that I was a "waste of time" when I failed another math test under his tutelage.
Or because when people like myself recount these experiences of ours to others, we're either brow-beaten, labeled as exaggerators, or told to "get over it".