“I hate black people.”
That’s how one day in the final quarter of the school year began in 6th hour. This section was all boys, 6th graders, and it was a choir/drama class. One student, let’s call him “Wayne” for now, walks up to “Dave,” taps him lightly on the shoulder, and as Dave turns around to face Wayne, Wayne says, deadpan, “I hate black people,” and walks away.
It should be noted that both of these students are black. Dave is darker that Wayne, and Wayne later identified himself as “Black and Mexican.”
It should also be noted that Dave did not respond in a way that involved serving Wayne a fist to the face or a cracked sternum or broken ribs. This is was later commended.
Instead of the knee-jerk reaction of (classroom appropriate) “Time out! And hold the f– What did you say?” (You can take the kid out of Oakland…) This monopolized our 40 minute class for the day and we had a discussion that seemed more pressing and, unfortunately, necessary.
Although this exchange is inappropriate and unfortunate in nearly all scenarios, it is also unfortunately, not uncommon of these particular 6th grade students. This very same class, in the first two weeks of school, witnessed an exchange between two students that elicited the statement, “Go back to where you came from.”
If this is your first time to my blog, it would be helpful to know that I am neither black or white (nor do I identify as either). I am a first-generation American with Filipino-born parents. 2016-2017 was my first year of teaching and in the first summer spent as a teacher, I took up another job and intentionally threw away my shot at summer lethargy since I graduated from high school 18 years ago.
I watched the film, Dear White People for the first time tonight. Yes, I said “first” just like when I said “first year teaching,” which implies in both cases that I intend on continuing and/or repeating this course of action.
For whatever reason of faded trailer memories, I thought it was going to be a comedy. A satire or spoof of some sort. I wasn’t ready for the 108 minutes that ensued after pressing Play.
I say again, I was not ready, but dammit that was/is a fantastic film.
I am neither white or black. And I am a first-generation American born in the same year that Ronald Reagan was shot
Racism is nothing new to me. Neither is activism or protest. Reverse racism? That’s something I’ll defer to Aamer Rahman to explain to you
I have been subject to racism and prejudice, and I confess that I have my fair share of prejudiced thoughts and targeted actions as well. I’m not saying I don’t, that would be a bold-faced lie.
The other day I watched a young child (a diapered toddler with blue eyes) struggle trying to climb up a slide as many children (and adults) attempt. He persisted, and tried the adjacent slide as well, but to no fruition. During this time, There were several young POCs (awkward but better than using Kids of Color as a backronym) playing on the slides as well, but they were diligent in making sure they did not step on or hinder the progress of the white(r) baby. Don’t get me wrong, they were rowdy and playing dangerously (for my conservative, first-time father-to-be eyes anyway) but they still avoided harming or hindering young blue eyes.
A black male nearby noticed blue eyes struggling, and he picked up the baby and placed him at the top of the slide to alleviate his struggle. That baby may have had no idea how he got up there. He probably didn’t know who his serendipitous samaritan was. In any case, he didn’t need to. He was at the top and went on his merry way.
Call it sensitive, hypersensitive, woke, paranoid, conspiracy theories, or whatever, but seeing that grown black male take initiative to help the young white child was notable to me. Of course, said adult may just being a good human and helping a wee one get past this little speed bump, but from my perspective (which is neither black or white), I see things in black and white (for the most part).
I could very well go on for pages about perspectives and racism and tolerance and on and on and on, but I’m tired and this looks like a good place to wrap up.
What I’m steering towards is that, being brown (to keep it simple), there’s a different perspective of the conflicts/struggles that brew between worlds that are typically noted as dichotomous…or, more specifically, black and white.
Being a theatre guy, one of the things I’ve noticed, and have noticed for years, and may never not notice…is casting choices. Some say color blind, others, color fluid, others say they don’t care. The greater discussion that lies among this topic–specifically in casting a theatrical production–requires a more rested mind and fingers that are more awake.
Until next time, Dear Blog People…nevermind.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.