A Wonderful Morning

May 8, 2007

I woke up this morning and got the kids ready for school as usual.

What struck me a little different as I dropped my son off for first grade was that the car in front of me let out about four kids, all of different ethnicities.  I was thinking to myself how interesting and wonderful that was– and how different it was from my experience.

My son began to walk up to the door, and suddenly his papers all flew out of his notebook and scattered.  The most wonderful thing happened:  one of the kids from the car in front, the one I had been watching, stopped to help him.  A fourth or fifth grader, an African-American, whom I don’t have any reason to think knows my son, stopped and helped my son collect his things.

Growing up in the 70s, which wasn’t that long ago, we didn’t interact with the “other.”  All the non-Anglo kids were brought in due to desegregation on buses.  Oh– this was still Texas.  We were still segregated.  They just found another way to do it.  They put all the white kids in “Talented and Gifted” classes.  We only saw the “others” in gym, and maybe in art or science.

I wasn’t self-aware of the segregation– really only recently when I started attending a mostly African-American parish did I fully understand it.  It was deeply embedded in me, this racism.  So embedded that when we moved to a suburb of Nashville, TN, when I was 16 and I was in the “Talented and Gifted” math class, and my African-American teacher suggested that the class might be too difficult for me, my first internal response was, “But she can’t ask me to leave this class– I’m white!”

That is scary.  And it didn’t occur to me until twenty years later that this was racism– racism that had been instilled in me not by my parents, but by the public institution of the school district.

So when I saw the African-American get out of the multi-cultural car and help my Anglo son pick up his papers, a big smile appeared on my face.  It almost brought me to tears.

The arc of history bends towards justice.

j

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