Basically since I began teaching 11 years ago I have been involved in diversity work. I have always felt that it was my job as a teacher to show kids ALL perspectives even when it is a tough perspective to understand or teach. I have discussed with students and teachers alike all the “isms” that are prevalent, big or small, in our society today. In my SEED class (Seeking Education Equity and Diversity) I talk about the touchy subject of white privilege, and all the weight that comes along with it. All of these years of training and learning and empathizing I thought would give me a “leg up” when adopting a child of another race. I think I was wrong.
See, for so many years I have taught/learned/discussed this topic of “diversity” as an “outsider”. Although I had a passion to educate people on the issues, I wasn’t a part of them. Sure, I had experienced discrimination in foreign countries, and have had other various happenings in my life where I felt like I was criticized for being who I was, but nothing really compares to the way I feel now.
What started this current train of thought was the movie that I just returned from watching called, “The Help”. I dragged my wonderful sis-in-law along with me to see this movie that I had heard so much about, and it felt much more personal than I thought it would. In the past I have seen movies like “Remember the Titans”, biographies on Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, etc. but while watching “The Help” tonight I kept wondering who Autumn’s biological grandparents and great-grandparents were. Did they have to suffer like some of the women in the movie? If you go back even further in her biological family tree, what other pain had her relatives suffered due to the only fact that they were black?
Then I think about what Autumn is going to learn about as she gets older. All these movies she will watch, stories she will hear and thoughts she will have. How can I explain to her that even in this sometimes nasty world, there is still so much love, and so much kindness? After such a crazy history, (and even current news) I just hope she feels some hope. Heck, I hope I do too.
Tonight I really felt it. It felt personal. It felt real. It felt like it was a part of me for the first time. That discrimination that has occurred and still occurs became a part of who I am. Although I can never feel it as a person of color feels it, (see it on people’s faces on a day-to-day basis) I felt it as a mom. Therefore, I felt it in my soul.
I hope this new perspective gives me the courage to talk about this with my children. I hope I never shy away from these issues that we are all going to be navigating through together. But most of all, I hope I never stop reminding my kids that “they are kind, they are smart, and they are important.”
Something that all small children in this world should be reminded of.