Salvador Meu Amor | Math Teacher – Jazly Liriano

Salvador Meu Amor / Salvador My Love 

Like a big transition is coming
One that I’m not ready for
I’m not ready

Things are going to be so

In English
Devoid of that Bahian warmth

Friendships that I need to evaluate
People that I need, to be honest with
Things I need to confront
And figure out

Because I just left
Loose ends
Unspoken pains
Irrational decisions
I just left
Escaped, to be honest

I felt tired
Worn out
I needed something new
I needed me
To feel something new
To have the fire of hope
Lit inside of me once again
A glowing red and yellow
And all the colors in between

I needed to know that I actually am not
That I can love and that it will be enough
That I don’t have to keep thinking
That I am difficult to love
Maybe I am
But I am worth it

I can make lasting connections
I am fun to be around
I am a good person.

I am a good person with a purpose
And everything
That has happened to me has only
Made me
More cognizant of who I am
Flaws and all
Has made me commit myself
To love
To growth
To people

Without that thought in that back of my head
That thought that told me that
I wasn’t enough

I am enough
Enough with the bullshit.

Math Teacher

I’m a teacher I say 

Ms. Liriano

The young Afro-Latina teacher 

I heard she’s from Harlem 

Supposedly she’s from the hood 

The projects, I heard

She’s cool, I like her 

But she be forcing it with the demerits

Talking, out of my seat, off task, inappropriate comments, refusing to do work

She be forcing it, I thought she was different

See I became a teacher to liberate 

Give them what I never had 

An honest and critical exploration of America 

Of knowledge and power 

Of us and our beauty, our power, our history 

Instead, I give demerits 

Teach them how to solve systems of equations and rationalize denominators 

Verify trigonometric identities and multiply binomials 

I am a math teacher 

Number sense, problem solving, logic, and reasoning 

I teach them to sit quietly and immediately get to work

Raise their hands to answer questions 

Respectfully disagree with me and their peers 

Order is necessary for learning, I teach them

Order then learning 

Order then critical thinking 

Order then engaging activities 

Order first, then everything else 

Order then justice? 

But they have to learn how to play by the white man’s rules I tell myself 

If they can’t sit quietly, they’ll never make it through college 

What about the job interviews? 

They need to play the game and it’s my duty to teach them the rules 

I was taught the rules 

I played the game like a pro

Harvard degree with honors 

No, it wasn’t because of affirmative action 

5’s on all my APs 800’s on SAT IIs 

I played the game like a fucking pro 

But at what cost?? 

It cost me my humanity, my identity, wiped away the naked Black bodies of my ancestors en route to Hispaniola 

The curl in my hair the swing in my hips 

I played the game so well that I forgot it was a game 

I became a teacher so my students wouldn’t have to suffer this loss of identity 

Temporary amnesia that wasn’t so temporary because I wanted to be like them

Whiteness, was the goal

I aspired, I played their game 

But still, I was 

A child of the diaspora 

No matter how hard I tried 

No matter how much mastery I gained

Even after I mastered trigonometric ratios, integrals, derivatives, inverse functions 

I could never master whiteness 

That’s where order got me. I don’t want this for my students.

Jazly Liriano

Jazly Liriano is an Abolitionist/Creative Afro-Latina Storyteller from East Harlem.  She earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2022 and her A.B. in Human Evolutionary Biology with a language citation in Portuguese from Harvard College in 2016. 


One Comment Add yours

  1. Great poetry, Jazly. Your story is inspiring. Thank you.


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