Monday, March 03, 2008

ain't nuthin' but skin

My whiteness was a theme today. In one class, one kid started to say something about me being white and thought better of it quickly. A few other kids jumped on them, but I could tell the offender didn't mean to be offensive. I just held out my pasty white arms and said, "No - it's the truth. Can't change it. I don't have control over it and don't see how it makes a difference. It doesn't make a difference to me that you are black, so I hope it doesn't make a difference to any of you what color I am. It's genetic. Moving on."

Later, with another class, I was half exasperated and just half loopy. I talk and teach with my hands a lot. I wave my hands around, accidentally send dry-erase markers flying across the room, and generally dance around in front of the white board like a lunatic. So finally I just stood up in front of the class and I said that I don't know what the deal is that other teachers walk into the room and they get immediate respect, immediate response. Am I invisible? This is my classroom and you all are my students and I love you and stand up for you and I fight every day for you and I haven't quite figured out what I did to earn your disrespect. I know I may seem like this crazy white woman who stands up here everyday screaming 'math! math! math!' (insert crazy arm waving here) but I wouldn't do it everyday if it weren't important. (The polite, if frantic, way of saying, "I come to work everyday for your benefit, you little monsters, what the fuck is your problem?")

And then one of my girls said one of the best (if most perplexing things) that I have ever heard on the subject. She says, "Ms. Em, we don't think of you as white!"

They're stupidly brilliant, these kids sometimes.

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