Wednesday, October 15, 2008

i'm not black and i never will be

is what, after a little while, has sunk into my eyes and gut after a long day at school today. i taught. i taught four classes non-stop, with some help from the sub here and there, and with help from the paraprofessional (just so we know, a para is an aide to kids with disabilities--this one is very personable, seems to know a lot of the kids, and is pretty old school in terms of disciplining in a tough-but-fair way, i suppose...i'm not quite sure of all this stuff quite yet, but let's move on to the story) during one class.

the idea was simple: have the class read two pages and have them make 10 multiple choice questions if there's time. i kinda thought to myself...10 multiple choice questions is going to take a long, long time--let's bag it, and do a discussion. much easier. and more of my strong point, i think, although it's certainly something i need to hone in on.

the real boom moment--when my own sense of self was completely tipped--something clicked--i'm not quite sure how describe it--a sinking feeling, a deep sinking, a terrible sense, almost like loss. the para, the aide, took over my class once he entered the room. it was fine. i didn't mind; he's a nice guy, and absolutely good enough to take over a discussion such as this, talking about children's rights, and what that all means to them, women and men's differences (wonderful discussion bout that), and hiring situations. i pulled it all together to get back into the whole "rights" thing, and then, as we were talking about adults and interskate 91 (a roller rink) and gunshots on boston road, boom it hit me how absolutely alienated i was and am from their experiences. they could want to go to rollerskate, and suddenly hear gunshots. i do not live in springfield, i thought. i'm totally sheltered. that was one.

soon, the conversation turned back to rights, and the para---like i said, a black guy, really nice, funny, serious, too---turned his language completely around, and stopped talking to them like an adult in school and started speaking like a black man, a peer, like how now it were suddenly real, like he had said when he started to speak as if he were speakin to you on the street. and then boom again: i'm not black. i'll never be black. and i won't ever be able to relate to the kids just like this para did.

i said it felt like loss. only now it does. really, i just felt alienated for a second, and strange. i'll never relate to them on that level. that's what race is about, i guess. maybe i'm starting to get it.


Victoria said...

Oh, Andrew.

Andrew said...


Anonymous said...

Amazingly honest.
And neither will I.
But does this mean we have nothing to offer these kids?
Are we only supposed to be teaching people like us?
What can they teach us?