The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 22–JAN 23

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DEC 22–JAN 23 Issue
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Danielle Demetria East, <em>Jet</em>, 2021. Mixed media. Courtesy the artist.
Danielle Demetria East, Jet, 2021. Mixed media. Courtesy the artist.

Marginalization is a weird concept. It’s not weird for places like Lubbock, Texas.

But it’s weird in a world that is majority “minority” with more Indigenous individuals, yet Euro-centric views overpower the mainstream media and often our values and belief systems.

It’s not weird in places like Lubbock, Texas that have a history of segregation, redlining, and environmental racism. It’s not weird because it’s rooted into the civic government, the politics, where people live and don’t live, the food, the schools, and you get the point.

It makes people feel insignificant when they are not. And it also gives room for people to feel backed into a corner and less than for no other reason than some implicit biases and misrepresentation.

It’s crazy because when I was younger, I thought about race a lot, but not in the context of “this is better than that.” But in the fact that this is what I am and what my family looks like… And most often there was one other kid that looked remotely like me in the classroom. And the teacher didn’t look like me, but that’s okay.

It wasn’t until I was older and I started to notice the race-based bullying that one of my best friends was facing. And I also (and probably always) noticed how I didn’t connect with the largest friend group of Black people in my class. At this time, I also didn’t connect with the larger group of white people in my class (the majority of them are bigots now and would never read this). It wasn’t until I was older that I started to notice or get the odd racial questions from teachers and get “mixed up” with other Black students in the classroom. Even though it had always happened, it was more prevalent now, and I had a name to call it: RACISM.

That’s why when people ask me about being a teacher in the K-12 system I get a little angry. Because they never ask me if I want to be an accountant, or an owner of a restaurant, or even an artist, or the President of the United States. It upsets me because I liked school, but I also really liked when I didn’t have to be there. I never liked being the only Black person in a room of twenty plus individuals who do’t know how to shut up. I didn’t like being mixed up with other Black people in the building. I didn’t like that the educational system was also a prison pipeline system that doesn’t care about Black students unless they’re athletes.

And to add on, I don’t like teaching, lesson planning, having to buy my students the necessary supplies they need (because the Board of Education would rather pocket the money), being around kids a lot, being around a lot of people for work, and I really don’t want to have to get up and be at work at 7–8 a.m. But the biggest factor is that I wanted to be released from this hold of marginalization. I’m aware there’s always times when I will be the only Black person, the only whatever in the room, BUT… I want to be able to at any time be able to get up and walk out of that room.


Danielle Demetria East

Danielle Demetria East is an interdisciplinary artist working in mixed media collage, installations, and poetry. She is Executive Director of East Lubbock Art House, a community-based nonprofit organization striving to make art accessible for all and to create an autonomous, beautiful, and sustainable community of diverse creators and change-makers.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 22–JAN 23

All Issues