Thursday, January 22, 2009

When I woke up this morning

I realized something really quite interesting. My family lives in a city (Buffalo) with an African-American Mayor, in a state (New York) with an African-American Governor, in a country (USA) with a mixed-race/ African-American President. This is a lot of executive brownness, you know I think my city council person is Hispanic. So I should feel that we have "overcome" and racism is a thig that my son will never have to encounter.

He's just a bit over two years old, and Kindergarten is not until 2011, but I have serious reservations about sending him to public school. I'm not so worried about a thin curriculum or lack of art and gym, I feel that I can supplement those. I'm more worried that because 1 out of 2 of the African-American boys in our city don't graduate from high school and that because of this his Kindergarten teacher will have lower expectations from him. I worry that she his brown skin and assume that his curiosity, exuberance and spirited-ness are liabilities and a discipline problem. Or worse yet, knowing that he only has half a chance at achieving a basic education she'll just protect her job and teach to the state test and leave out everything else. Our school staff and administration isn't all white, in fact the superintendent is another accomplished African-American. After some of the things that the public has said about Barack Obama I'm also worried about what some of his black teacher and classmates might think about him. Kiran is multi-racial, like most Americans, but he wears it on his face and in his crazy curly hair. Will someone say he's not black enough because his father is Polish, and his mother went to college and speaks standard English. This is one of the most hurtful things that anyone can say to you, or think about you. I know because since I was in honors classes in high school, students and teachers implied that I mustn't be really *that Black*, right?

So there's always private school and if we scrimp and save we may be able to pay for some of that. The parents and teachers with no doubt be a little more familiar with multi-racial children, and maybe a little less prone to stereotypes and there will be little room for low expectations. I went to private school for most of elementary school but I clearly remember the mother of one of my classmates giving me what could simply be called a reading test when I went over for a play date. Are you kidding me? no. Can President Barack keep that from happening to Kiran? Can I?

I'm not sure that I should try to protect him from everything, and if I do succeed in protecting him, what about all the other children in my town, my state and my country. If they have to encounter these little injustices, these big injustices how will they be affected. How can I protect them too?
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