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Monday, August 30, 2010

The lesson I never wanted to teach

Can't fathom not being in mixed company
 I finally had to teach the lesson today that I never, ever, wanted to teach.  I'd done a pretty good job avoiding over the years.

NO, it is not about sex ed, or even higher math.  Those things don't scare me.  What scares me (or scared me) as teaching my African American Children about
Desegregation and civil rights.

At ages 14 and 16, this has never been a conversation that I have had with my kids.  Sure, I have taken them to the MLK center and watched and answered questions as they came up, but a full detailed lesson (with more to come) about the atrocities that followed the civil war... that has always scared me and with good reason.

As we covered the curriculum in detail, and reviewed the slides and mini video clips,   they would turn to me with a look in their eyes that say "why".  What am I supposed to say? Other times they would raise an eyebrow to me as if to say "really"?... and all I could do is shrug and say "yeah".  The hole affair just makes me feel sad and worn out...  I can see why public schools graze over this information. 

I don't want my kids to have to process that 100 years ago, their best friends would not be their best friends.  I don't want my kids to understand that 50 years ago, they could be publicly mistreated just because of the color of their skin... heck.  I don't even want to process it myself.

Still, it is time to Study US History 2 and it's part of history, so we have to study it.

WalletPop Contributor


Andrea said...

Ugh! We just toured the History Museum here. There was a section honoring T.C. Walker and showing the 'colored school' sign. My son just couldn't understand it. I can't understand it. He said "so I wouldn't have been allowed to play with Isaiah?" How to explain that to a 8 year old...good luck!

Marlis said...

I've been talking to my children about this for a while now. Especially my daughter. Well she is ten and my son just turned five. We are caucasian/indian (asia) mix and so it's probably a lot easier for us to talk about it than for you guys. We don't have all that emotional content to it for us because we don't have only 3-4 generations between us and what happened. My son thought it was plain stupid that he couldn't have played with his best friend. As for me, i know i would never have married my husband or my mother her father because both my husband and father are asian-indians. Thank you America, had it not been for you we'd all be talkin' German right now.

The past is just that. The past. We need to learn from it and take the lessons from it to move on and create a better world. When I read MLK's speeches I tear up. OK, I"ll admit it I choke up and go for the kleenex box. That reminds me I need to post my 'I have a dream' vocab lesson on my blog. My grandfather was a Nazi. That doesn't mean it's my guilt or my childrens'. But it brings history all that closer to us and brings about opportunities to talk to our children about tolerance, about how far we've come and how much further we still have to go.

I can't imagine how painful and hard it must have been for you to see your childrens' confused expressions. Use this opportunity to teach them about all those amazing people who paved the way. And i know I don't have to give you those names:)


PS I've been lurking on your site for a year now.

J. Bramlett said...

I can only imagine what a tough subject that would be to teach! I can also only imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for you to see your children's reactions.

God Bless you for getting through the lesson. Hopefully the new generation of children can create a new world where that type of prejudice doesn't exist. I think there is some proof to this change seeing as you weren't forced to teach it sooner for "another" reason.

Mrs. C said...

I am sooooo dreading even mentioning this part of history to my children because I'm still not entirely sure they have the social sense to um, use that information wisely...

My autistic and very literal child once asked a black cashier at the grocery cafe if her boss knew she was away from the farm. (That was fun. Not.)

Then I explained to the kid out of her earshot later that black folks came here from Africa a long, long time ago and now they are AMERICAN like you, so no more talking about being away from the farm, ok? That's why some people call them African AMERICANS, mmkay?

So from the cafe, we walked to the produce section and wouldn't you know, he walked right up to a black fellow and said, "You're from Africa!"

The guy about dropped the crate of peppers and shouted, "YES! I am from Kenya! How did you know??"

LOL exit stage right...

Ahermitt said...

I sure that was embarrassing for you Mrs. C... but I am glad for my first belly laugh of the day!