main navigation
my pace
Office of Multicultural Affairs—NYC

I Am Joy–I Am Special Education


The following reflection merits an introduction; the reasons will soon become apparent. Whether or not to post the paper was weighed heavily for over two months. When I initially started to read Joy’s paper on my ride to work, I became annoyed. I thought to myself, “Hasn’t she ever heard of spell-check?” I immediately whipped out my red pen and started correcting the errors. However, my subway ride, which started at 161st Street/Yankee Stadium evolved from annoyance; to a headache; to profound sadness coupled with a floodgate of tears; and lastly, to action.

In 1991, Jonathan Kozol wrote Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools. The book is a searing indictment of the inequities in our public education system. Fourteen years later, he wrote yet another exposé of the continued failures of education: Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. Here again, the author gives voice to what many students and their parents in under-served communities and education advocates have known for decades: that despite policies and the rhetoric of slogans—the disparities between working poor and the middle class run deep; the chances for parity remain elusive; and their future as full members of society, questionable.

In closing, I congratulate Joy for her tenacity, her self-advocacy, and for bearing the characteristics of her name; for she is indeed a source of pleasure, of wonder, and of charm.

Denise Belen Santiago
Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs

I Am Joy—I am Special Education

I never know that had experience racism, class and sexual orientation in my life until now. As I write this paper I am starting to remember all the bad names and things that had happen to me. Such as begin called an orea which’s means a black person on the outside but a white person in the inside.

From Junior high school I was called the Black girl who acted white. As a child I thought that kids were begin mean to me. I would never pay them any mind. I didn’t know what to think of the kids begin mean to me. My grandmother said don’t patient those kids any attention to them.

I didn’t know what class was until I was 16th years old. I never realize that I was middle class or what poor. Some people call it. I knew that I wasn’t like most kids in many ways. I knew that I didn’t have parents and my brothers. When I registered for college it was the first time I learn my grandmother financial situation. My class as a child I thought was wealthy due to the fact my grandmother well off them most people.

In the tenth grade my math teacher Ms.Jarvis who absent. My class went crazy. The class started bullying the other kids in the class. The biggest bully name Sharesse started making jokes about me, my friend and clothes. She would say “joy you think your white “you’re an orea!” “what is whitey doing?” Sharesse started calling me a “black bitch who wanted to be white”. She would say that I need to stop speaker as white girl and act black. I was the stuck up white black bitch to them. Due to the faceted that there was no sub teacher the kids got away with anything. The kids torn the room up. The exams that were hanged up on the wall were torn down. That was the day the sharesse torn my self esteem down. She would say the white snow flake is wearing timbers. Deep down inside I started to hate the way she spoke to me. I started to hated sharesse. I start to feel bad about myself. The class started calling me a bourgeoisie black bitch. One of the kids and the class laugh expect this boy Reggie. Reggie was a class clown he said the only thing I have is that I have pretty hair for a dark skin snow girl. Sharesse started asking where did I come from and did I have a lot of white people in my family.

My junior high experience was the worst time I my life. I hated that school with a passion. I hated the teachers, prinpinicals, and deans. And the staff. From the third grade to I graduated from high school I was in special education. My junior was located in brownsivliie and I lived in bed stuy. I was never on time to that school. I truly didn’t care about be on time. I was bullies, jumped and tortiment me for two years. One day I was doing my class work then the next thing I remember was getting pencil shaving in my hair. These two girls head behind one of them had to do it. The girl shaniqua said she had put the pencil shaving in we I started cleaning my hair my felt so dirty. I was so mad and want to go home at that moment. Shaniqua say that dark skin girls don’t have pretty hair. I wanted to cry and fight but deep down inside it was a lost cause. I knew that cacique was begin use by the girls who didn’t like me.

My senior class had all been program wrong and were missing credits. I was the only one who had 47 credit but I was only miss regent and RCT. One problem was that the state schedule regent and RCT on the same time and day. Most of the would take at least 6 exams back to back a day.

I remember my high school counsler had a meet with the senior class. It was horrible. It was right of outside Ms.Steadman office. All the student had to find chair or stand up. Their was no prillviage and no help for student to learn what the need to graduate. I was so mad that Ms.Steadman had the nerves to hold the meet outside her office. I thought that meet was very unprofossoail and degrading to the students. I honornessly thought the better place would have been the high school audition.

In June 2007 all the senior were able to walk down the alse and receive a grown and cap. Out of 50 senior special education only less than 10 received a local high diploma. I learn that the system set the kids up to fail. Due to the fact that my class are low income families. The wasn’t all nothing I could have done. In many way I felt that I was push to fail. It was like I has loss the battle but I won in same ways. I graduated with a local high school diploma and one day dream of change the process for special education. I learn never to let anyone try to break you down .Also I learn to become more involment with my education.

In many way I always felt like the block sheep of my family. Two of my aunts would always tell me I was stupid and would always tell me I was stupid and would never be any thing. My aunt would say no man would ever want me. She would say I was to black for a man. My teeth was jackup and that I had monkey feet. Also my aunt would say that my grandma shouldn’t have keep her grandchild. I was the uglyist little girl she had seen. My aunt had a lot of hated toward my mother and her children.

I remember one day begin one day begin at my aunt house playing with my cousin. My aunt nina had asked me a question and I said okay that is when my aunt tee went off on me. She said “stop sounding like a white girl”. It was getting on nerves, all I could remember was her saying that I was try to act white but I didn’t know I always that felt that my aunt had a lot of hated toward me .

I have learn hard way bout family and education. I learn how special education they only push you the next grade. It doesn’t matter if the children know’s the work doesn’t. It goes my their age. Also I learn that the staff was only their for their pady checks. Its been hard.

February 2010