Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A rude awakening

In light of the George Zimmerman trial aftermath, The Boy and I both are rethinking how he looks to other people.
This is The Boy just having fun with a couple of bandannas over his face, a couple of weeks ago. But this morning (sans bandannas) an NPR story got us talking about race.

He asked me if he would have gone to a white school or a black school in the 1960s, since he's biracial. Among other things, I replied that he would have gone to a black school... and I could almost hear the realization of what that probably meant sinking into his mind like a stone.
The Boy is doing very well at school here and now... he goes on field trips, he reads the print off the pages of challenging books... But he knows in the 1960s he probably would have been cut off from most of these educational resources. (I didn't even get into how that hasn't changed for many kids who look like him.)
We did talk about how he still has the power to accomplish anything he wants to do, even though it may take longer than he expects, and that he comes from a long line of people who never give up.

Next stop: The Talk, in which I explain to him that the police are not always his friend. Can it wait until he's at least ten years old?

1 comment:

Alicia Harvey said...

When I taught college Rhetoric of Composition in the late 80s, we had one assignment in which the students defined the audience that a writer was writing for. One of the writers was Martin Luther King Jr. and his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Part of the assignment was understanding the atmosphere of the culture at the time.

My students thought that the Civil Rights Movement could be summed up as: A few blacks sat down at a diner, had a discussion with the white owners, and were served.

When I showed the "Eyes on the Prize" episode about Birmingham, which ended with the bombing of the 16th St Baptist church and the death of the black girls - the silence when my students left the room was palpable.

Personally, I believe we are, as David McCullough says, a historically-ignorant culture. We look at our historical past wistfully and selectively. Well, guess what? Some of the past was ugly - and we still need to remember those images...for the future.

Thank you, Lisa, for these images because the future is our children.