Infuriated... Indignant... Indecisive...

In the 1950s my father went to a Catholic school specifically for blacks in the inner city. He grew up during the Civil Rights era, never participating, only observing. Based on what he observed, he formed his own opinions on race relations.

In the late 1970s thru 1991 I attended Catholic schools. I learned that there was a special month dedicated to Black History by watching an episode of the Cosby show one Thursday night. I believe it was Theo that had to write an essay about the Civil Rights movement and did a piss poor job of it and the grandparents ended up schooling him on it. I sat enthralled. There was no mention of this stuff in my history books at school. There was a token picture of Martin Luther King somewhere but aside from being shot dead and making a speech about a dream I really had no clue about history, slavery, Civil Rights, black power, black inventors, nothing. Far as I knew the only significant black in American history was Crispus Attucks and I didn't learn his race until nearly 8th grade. It wasn't until I graduated from Catholic school and entered a public high school that I really learned that, oh my fuck, there's an entire MONTH dedicated to us. Albeit it was the shortest month in the year but dude... in the libraries I learned about Benjamin Banneker, Phyllis Wheatley, Malcolm X, George Washington Carver, and so many more. Then I learned about local blacks like Bill Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Maggie Walker, John Mitchell, Jr. The more I learned the more I became incensed that WE, my people, my ancestors, were left out of so many books. After all the struggles and accomplishments, blacks couldn't even get a fucking paragraph in a textbook.

Fast forward to the present...

My daughters, yes both of them, now attend Catholic school. Jaalyn has attended this school since she was 4 years old. She is currently 9.

Not once has Black History Month been acknowledged at that school.

Not. Ever.

I asked the principal about it. Why didn't she mention a new person each morning before prayers commenced? They do it for all the saints on the feast days and the even read a short history of that person. The principal replied that she usually leaves that sort of "thing" to the individual classroom teachers. It's more of a Social Studies kind of "thing". And she admitted that when she taught third grade she never "got around to it" until March.

I blinked.

And then I mentioned that March is actually National Women's History Month.

I wasn't sure I even heard her correctly. I didn't want to hear her correctly. Because... That. Is. BULLSHIT.

What the fuck? Seriously what fucking year/century... I mean WHAT?! The goddamned President of the fucking United States is fucking BLACK. When he won the election last year it made fucking HISTORY.

How can... let me pause because I'm getting heated...

I simply don't understand it. The school my girls attend is pretty diverse. Way more diverse than the schools I attended. Often there were two blacks in my classes; me and Georg (no -e, just Georg). We were like pepper in the salt shaker you know? Very evident, very obvious, very awkward. But my girls' school has more black students, black teachers, Asian students, ESL kids, Hispanic and Latino children. The bulk of the student body is still White, but when you look out at the sea of cherubic faces every shade of person is represented in some way. Yet...

No one celebrates it.

I can't tell you how insanely angry this makes me. It's not just about Black History, Women's History, Asian-Pacific or whatever. It's about education. It's about the fact that I pay money for this education and not just a little bit, I pay a LOT of fucking money all year long. I pay because I want my kids to have a better education than the public schools can provide. I pay big bucks for that privilege. But when shit like this happens, I feel like I'm getting a raw deal. Because they are not teaching my child as much as they could. Hell as much as they should.

My daughter already gets angry when she notices toys specifically marketed to white children or the token black person in some of her favorite shows. She has a very loose concept of what racism consists of and understandably despises it. The kids in her class are very bright, very inquisitive as all children are at that age. Their minds are the proverbial sponge primed for soaking up succulent morsels of knowledge...

And all their school give them is vinegar.

I could do something about it. I did bring the matter up with Jaalyn's teacher but I got no results. Well, that's not entirely fair. She told me there just hasn't been time to teach it. Okay, that's understandable with the snow days, parent/teacher conferences and so on. Now, I'm no professional teacher but I do know that dropping facts to kids in a fun manner can take oh I don't know... 10 minutes max? I'm not asking for a dissertation. I'm asking for acknowledgement. I'm asking that they try.

So like I said, I could do something about it. I could volunteer and teach the kids myself.

The question is should I?


Jeff said...

I understand your frustration. I am sorry that this is happening. I think your right that they could and should teach things like this more and it is sad when they do not. I would say that if they are not getting this in school, you could tell/teach your girls at home all about this and from your own perspective...that way at least they will know even if the other kids in the class do not....or if you have the time, you could ask permission from the teaching staff at the school to address the class directly...however, sometimes, I think that they will fight that one.

Whatever you do...remember that there are people in the world that love everyone I do....and remember always that I love you too!