By 1980 I rocked one of these,while being blissfully unaware of race. Image: Sears
I attended “lower performing” public schools.Elem, Middle, High = half Black / half White populations. Most of us were barely middle class. Didn’t really think about race. . . Until . . .
3rd Grade. Was beat up for the first time by an olderBlack kid, surrounded by his rooting friends. Never knew the cause or their names. That’s when Race became real to me. Image:A Black Man’s View
Went on to get my butt kicked 4 more times before graduating highschool. An indicator of how I fared in those bouts: I never threw or landed a punch. I mostly wondered, “Why?” In all, I only knew one of the kids by name. I assumed Race as motivating factor in each. Image: AP Photo
Didn’t consider myself a racist. I just did my thing with the nerds and outcasts.But I guess there was a lot I didn’t see about me. Image: Cheezburger
Despite the memory of those altercations,Two inhibitors made it easy to ignore the truth. Image: Jim Henson
1. I’m literally color blind. (These pairs look exactly the same to me.) It served as a convenient race metaphor.“Hey, I’m color blind. Really. And figuratively.” Image: Jim Goldstein
2. I loved (and still love) “Black” music . . .How could I possibly contribute to poor race relations? Image: Yuri via Last.fm
Of course, we learn what we experience,And a White male experiences Privilege.An inkling of this hints around graduation. Image: Abagond
It’s tough realizing you don’t know what you don’t know. This begins to dawn in college. Image: 9Gag
At UF I fell in love with African American literature.Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Fire Next Time, Beloved, The Souls of Black Folk, Up FromSlavery, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Ain’t I A Woman? . . . Equiano, Wheatley, Dunbar, Cullen . . . Native Son Image: Richard Wright
In my African American Literature and Native American Literature classes, I wanted to talk authorship. My classmates of color wanted to talk racism.Couldn’t understand why they weren’t tired of the topic.
In the college of education, aprofessor fully lifts the veil.And then sends us into low incomehousing 3 times a week. Image: Kasama
Here my thinking about race & racism boiled down tothis: EVERYTHING in the SE is shaped by racial history. Image: Jessica Luallen
Began building curricula with Tom Feelings’“The Middle Passage” as the starting point. Image: Tom Feelings
Once I had my own classroom, we used African Americanliterature as the lens for investigatinghistory, geography, storyarc, narrative, character, protagonists and antagonists.I challenged my students: “Are all Whites bad? Or just some of us?” Prove it. Image: Leon’s Story
We built maps around the SE.(The black arrows represent slave trade routes.) Image: Jason Flom
We culminated with a SE Tour of Civil Rights Sites: -Selma Bridge- Image: Jason Flom
-Dexter Ave Baptist Church- Montgomery, AL Image: Jason Flom
-Civil Rights Memorial- Montgomery, AL Image: Jason Flom
-Booker T. Washington’s Grave- Tuskegee, AL Image: Jason Flom
-MLK, Jr’s Tomb- Atlanta, GA Image: Jason Flom
-Jimmy Carter Museum- Plains, GA Image: Jason Flom
But what does this all mean in terms of my racial autobiography?
I have a love – for ahistory (& its music).And a guilt – for my color’s part in it. Image: ROFLRAZZI
And now I have girls, and I wonder,“What privilege will they feel entitled to?” Image: Jason Flom
I can only hope what we pass to them is the love & appreciation, as well as the courage & insight to see Beyond Diversity. Image: Jason Flom
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