All Atiya Bey wants is fairness

All Atiya Bey wants is fairness
February 15
10:00 2018

Busta’s Person of the Week

By Busta Brown

Atiya Bey was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“I am the daughter of a black father, Rasheed Bey. He woke up every morning to provide for his family, and my mother made sure that no matter what decision we made, we were to be fair,” said Bey. “Growing up I struggled in many areas, but I always made sure that I treated the people around me fairly and with respect. As a child growing up in an atmosphere where being fair was important, I had to learn and come to understand that the world is sometimes not fair.”

Atiya said she was diagnosed with a learning challenge and had difficulty focusing. “I suffered from these learning disabilities throughout school, like dyslexia and ADHD.”

Her parents put her in different youth organizations, but that didn’t help.

“As I got older, I realize that the world around you will never change, so you have to change who you are,” she said. Bey’s mother, Hazel Mack, decided to make a change and open a school in Winston-Salem. “She understood that it was not just her daughter that needs help but other children. In 1997, Carter G. Woodson opened their doors, and I was one of the first to graduate along with Brandon Stewart in 2002.”

During her time at Carter G. Woodson, she had a lot of struggles. “I was always taught to find a way out. I saw how hard my family worked, so I couldn’t let my struggles within hold me back.”

Atiya didn’t allow anything to hold her back. She attended North Carolina Central University and graduated with a bachelor in human science degree. “I hold two BS degrees and a Masters Degree,” she said.

Bey is paying it forward. She’s a teacher and role model at Carter G. Woodson. When I walked into her classroom for our interview, I saw something every parent should witness. She was explaining to two brothers the importance of doing their homework together, and teaching the oldest how to teach his little brother math. As the brothers were getting on the bus, Bey said, “I love you” and the boys replied, “I love you, too.”

Here’s where it gets interesting; she’s in a same-sex relationship and they’re the foster parents of four siblings, all girls.

“Our goal was to keep them together. I have seen how important family is and keeping children together after they have been through a traumatic situation is very essential,” she said.

We talked about how the world still frowns upon same-sex couples, and the struggles she and her partner will have as foster parents to four little girls. The more we talked, the more I admired Atiya Bey. So I asked, how such a loving teacher and parent handles the daily prejudice same-sex couples receive? As she began to answer, tears began to flow down her face and then mine as well. She covered her face with both hands, and cried. I gave her some tissue. It took a few minutes for Atiya to gain composure.

“I had to develop this tunnel vision, and the best accomplishment in my life is to learn to live alone. When you learn to live alone, you learn who you are. When you do that, you can walk through the hate and prejudice and still give love. You can still smile through whatever, because you don’t need others to validate who you are.”

She said something that brought more tears to my eyes: “The best and most important thing we can give to each other is fairness and understanding. When I see a child in need, I give; I don’t judge that child or his parents. You don’t know their situation, so the best thing to do is help.”

Atiya has been working with children for over 10 years, and she’s a parent as well, so I asked how she and her partner would deal with a child’s curiosity about same sex-couples. Also how would they handle a child being approached by the same sex. Go to the Winstonsalem Chronicle YouTube channel to hear her response in a video.

Atiya Bey and her partner have an Art & Tutoring program that begins the first week in April. The program will help children to express who they are through art, along with learning how to love who they are.

“They will leave each week knowing that they can face all odds. This program is not just about art and tutoring; it’s about building children up to make them better.”

Bey’s motto is, “Once you understand the developmental stages of a child’s background, that is when you can move them forward in life as teachers.”



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