I almost forgot…Almost…
You see, I did not open my Facebook yesterday evening. I have become inconsistent with checking my Twitter. I live in New Orleans, 45 minutes from where I work. Track practice was fine yesterday…My favorite student told me to remember, but I did not hear her message..
You see, last night was date night. I was too consumed in changing into my date night attire, examining the last bit of pudge that needs to go before Orpheus Ball on Monday night. I was having conversations with my husband about the poem that caused so much controversy…trying to gain some perspective…that I almost forgot.
You see, both of my sons attend a predominantly white school, and that school has done so much to embrace my new family member. My sons came home yesterday with books from the book fair, and I forgot to send them money so I asked “How did they get the books?” And they told me someone’s mom bought the books for them….And the assistant principal made a personal visit to the house to bring a king cake, goodies, and clothes…And my son came home with a new jacket on the days it was cold outside….So I almost forgot.
I forgot that most people are not like my family or our school. I forgot that our nation is divided. I forgot that empathy is in small supply and ignorance runs rampant. I forgot that people cannot hear the silent majority over the screaming minority…until today.
Today, the words of 9 students effectively shut down a school.
I did not even see it coming. I was too involved with myself to notice. My husband, children and I were too happily living in a bubble.
A bubble where I am a wife who happens to be black and my husband is a male who happens to be white. A bubble where we teach our light skinned children that they are brown and white and that they have a brother who is just brown, and both are okay. A bubble where I go into a classroom, and everyone gets a fresh start every day – regardless of their behavior the day before, regardless of the color of their skin…
I forgot that not everyone lives that way. And I was saddened to the point of tears. I thought back to those 9 students in their all black addressing race from an African-American perspective in 2017. I thought of how so many of my non-African American students were offended so they threatened to blow up the school on social media. Police, bomb dogs, and news cameras flooded the area…I was confused all because I forgot…
The craziest part is that the entire point of the poem spoken at CULTURE SHOW was that the playing field is not quite equal for all. More than one of my non-African American students pointed out that the culture show would have been fine except for that piece. So I dissected the spoken word, and then I watched it again, and I waited… I waited to be offended. And I asked my husband over and over to watch it because I could not understand.
I could not understand how that poem…shut down a school…at a culture show.
Now, we can blame it on Mardi Gras. We can say it was the holiday break. We can speculate as to all the other reasons, but those reasons do not explain the police, or the parents, or the news cameras. Those reasons only explain the absence of the students.
My husband says the Black Panther party incites feelings of anti-whites (warranted or not). The all-black of the all-African American students, the “chains” they said still bound them, the demands for equality in order not to incite wrath…all offensive I am told…
I am not here to argue about whether or not the poem was offensive. My bias and my own ignorance prevent me from speaking on the subject.
What I know is that today 9 students shut down the school. Yesterday, 9 students did not resort to violence or screaming or arguing. They used their words. They put pen to paper. They planned. They prepared.
They made people address a topic that some would rather forget. They created conversations that would not occur otherwise. They talked about the innermost feelings of Black people as a minority in a non-Black America.
I neither support nor refute their statements. I refuse to tell people that how they feel is unjustified…
…My last class of the day, the very bane of my workplace existence, had 13 students show up to class today. They topped the charts for the number of students in any of my classes with totals topping over 50%. The class is actually a great mix of cultures – dark brown skinned, extra light brown skinned, and every shade in between. There are black students, white students, and every other mix of students that you can imagine – all who have struggled immensely in math at some point in the not so distant past. Unthankfully for me, hardly any of their parents came to check them out in our chaos we called a school day, and for some reason, this class is the favorite of one of my calmest, sweetest students. I often wonder how she survives in the madness I call a 4th period, and yet, today she brought a king cake to school…just for my class.
When the class found out it was for them, they gave her a standing ovation. They cheered, shouted and high-fived each other all around. A perfect end to a treacherous day. Here we are, all consumed in black and white and whether or not a poem was offensive. And something as small as a king cake brings everyone together…
Perhaps, America stands a chance in this forgotten war on racism.
Perhaps, more people like my husband and I exist…people just trying to survive…people trying to teach their children to be better people…people teaching that shades of color make the world beautiful…all of them.
Perhaps the world needs 9 more students…9 sets of words on paper in front an audience…without violence…9 sets of schools shut down to have conversations…
Perhaps, the world needs just a little more king cake…Perhaps the world needs more students like the one girl who knows how to shine a light in darkness….one person to make a peace offering in the middle of a war raging all around them…
Perhaps the world needs one more set of people to remember…one more set of “what do you think?”…one more set of, “I understand, and I am sorry. I never meant to make you feel that way.”
Perhaps the world needs one more, “I love you just as you are.”
One more I remember, and I will never forget.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” ~ George Santayana – Source
What are your thoughts on the current state of affairs of race in America? I am open to all opinions even if they differ from my own.
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