I have a problem.
It is a big problem. It’s called “when you touch my stuff I get angry.”
I don’t know if I’m incredibly possessive, or if I have a mental something that makes me this way, but I really dislike it when people
- touch my things without asking
- rifle through my things, like backpack or closet
- grab up something of mine to look at it closer (be it art, an embroidered bag, a bracelet…)
- open up my room/closet/box of something without asking
I’m tired of people acting like it’s my fault that I don’t like people putting their fingers on my stuff without asking.
When I tell other people not to touch my stuff, they get really offended. They call me an “angry Spanish chick” or say “damn, chill out, no need to go Latino on me.”
It’s like I can’t have my own personal quirks. Everything has to be attributed to my race.
Case in point:
Second grade, right after I had enrolled in Rich White Kids elementary. Middle of the year. There was one boy in the class in a wheel chair, and he had an assistant.
She was constantly getting up in my business, correcting my work, and telling the teacher on stuff I did. I was her special case because I was loud and Latin@ (I have ADHD). She thought I was a problem child. She was exceptionally nosy, but she never took it to the same lengths with a white child.
One time, after class, I was a little late to clean up and leave. I was putting books back on the shelf, and turn around to see her dumping my stuff in my bag.
I have a very specific order for putting things into my backpack that I used then, and I use today. If this order is violated, it offends me. It just does.
I immediately shrieked and ran over, because I have poor impulse control. I began jabbering rapidly in Spanish, and told her “Don’t touch my stuff.” She then proceeded to lecture me and attempt to place me in time-out, which I refused. I walked out of the class room, my backpack to my chest, her angry reprimands following me out.
The next day, I met with the principal, the teacher of that class and the assistant. I was given a referral for disrespecting a school official (which the assistant was not - she wasn’t paid by the school or school board, but by the impaired child’s family) and warned that further unruliness would result in expulsion.
My mother was furious. She called and said:
- It was not the job of another child’s personal assistant to reprimand or discipline a child that she is not responsible for
- She is not a school official and disrespect to her is a personal matter
- She has no business putting her hands on my items, whether she’s helping or not
- This woman will leave me alone.
They did not strike the referral from my record. The woman continued to put herself in my business constantly, and no one said anything about it.
The next year, the boy was in my class again. And the assistant was there again.
We had a student who had just moved from England. And the assistant proceeded to put herself in the English student’s business as well, which culminated in a similar incident to mine, except the student actually threw something at her in his frustration.
- The student did not receive a referral.
- The student was referred to the school nurse/psychologist.
- The student’s parent was called in to discuss alternative class arrangements so he wouldn’t have to be around the assistant.
- The assistant was given a word of warning to leave the student alone.
I know all this because the English student was my friend. But he was white.
My incident was treated as unruliness, rebelliousness, disrespect. My incident discounted my feelings entirely.
His incident was treated as a fluke. Psychological problems outside of his control. Impinging on his rights by the assistant.
I think it’s really significant that I was the Latina immigrant, and he the white one.