Every school year, I make a pledge to become more involved in the kids’ school community. Every year, I fall short of my goal. I am not a member of the PTA, I can’t remember the last field trip I chaperoned, and it often takes all that I have to make it to parent-teacher conferences. (My kids, angels that they are, give me PLENTY of opportunities to meet with the teachers.) Yesterday, while checking my voice mail, I discovered a missed message inviting me to a two hour workshop at Finge’s school last night. To my surprise, it was to participate in a Montgomery County Public School program, known as Study Circles. YES! Because I’m going to teach these privileged housewives a thing or two.
I think as a minority woman, I occasionally hold the silent belief that the handbook to all that it means to be accepting and diverse is etched in my psyche. I believed it until during a time of open sharing, the lone Caucasian male in the group said something that I considered arguably ignorant, and reeked of “White Man’s Burdenism.” My left eyebrow (the powerful one) went up, my lip curled, and I wanted him to just shut up. After a moment, I paused, because I realized that this is why a group of this type is necessary. As he continued to speak, I picked up a certain sincerity and confusion in his voice. Because there were things he simply didn’t understand. In that realization, I further decided that I couldn’t quite understand why he didn’t understand, and maybe that’s why we’re all here. Even if he is ultimately dead wrong, he should be able to effectively express himself and be respectfully rebuffed if necessary, should he not?
I don’t think this group will heal the world, and I don’t know that me and this gentleman will engage and completely understand the complexities of being in the other person’s shoes. I do, however, believe that it is important to know that we are all human and everyone has a story. There are reasons I feel the way that I do as a black woman, and there are reasons he feels the way he does as a white man. We’re not obligated to agree with one another, skip off and sing “Happy Together.” I think varying people having an open space to respectfully share and listen to the view points of others is something I can really get down with. I will keep you guys posted.