It is time for a positive / uplifting story.
The other day I had a meeting with a parent and child. At the meeting, including me, there were four educational professionals, parent, child and an interpreter. I am going to respect the folks at the meeting by making no reference to gender or ethnicity of student / parent or topic of meeting.
In twenty-nine years of teaching high school, it was the first time I had ever been at a meeting with an interpreter. Having the interpreter made the meeting longer – that’s for sure. Yet, as the interpreter was translating, it gave me time to reflect on the environment.
As I sat there observing, I was getting fired-up! Almost daily, we are bombarded with how awful the USA is. How bad “white males” are. Seriously. I cannot get on FACEBOOK or DRUDGE REPORT without a story being, “there is that angry white male, again.” Or “FILL-IN-THE-BLANK group is oppressed.”
Yet, on one side of the table were three of “those-white-males.” At the head of the table was a “white-female” education professional. And sitting on the other side of the table were the interpreter, the parent, the student.
Wow… Such the “awful” nation! An “awful” nation that sees three of “those-white-males” giving a damn about the student. Seriously. To hear what each one of us was saying about the student sure didn’t sound like “those-white-males.” You know … full of masculine toxicity (cough – cough).
Wow … Such the “awful” nation! An “awful nation where the leader of the meeting was “white-female.” How many other nations have leaders of meetings be a “white-female?”
Wow … Such the “awful” nation! An interpreter?! You have got to be kidding me. I thought we were told how insensitive the USA is to people who can’t speak English. How we don’t care? And here we are … with an interpreter. You do realize other nations would not think about providing an interpreter. Nope. Learn the nation’s damn language is the “cry” in other nations. By the way, in our “awful” nation… who is paying for the interpreter?
At the meeting what got to me was this part?
“Let’s start with the teacher. Mr. Everts what do you want to say about “student’s” classwork?”
I give a glowing report about my student. How we have bonded. How the student shared with me his parent (not the meeting) was going through chemotherapy. Great behavior. Respectful. On and on… what a parent would love to hear about his / her child.
As I listen to the interpreter share my report, I see the parent starts to hold back tears and then … begins to cry. I “lost” it.
Then, the parent says incredible things about me and my relationship with his or her child. How the student’s other parent is struggling with Cancer and how much this parent appreciates my support with his / her child. How the student’s uncle is too busy to help the parent’s child. And how nice it is to have a teacher show concern. I start crying watching the parent speak to me. Didn’t understand a damn word, but I could see the emotion and then the interpreter told me.
As the interpreter is translating what the parent said, what was going through my mind was the recent allegation that was sustained of me making students feel uncomfortable because I was using words that were “culturally inappropriate.” Yes. It happened. A “white male” should not be using that word because that word is not for “white” people and when a “white male” uses the word, it makes the student of color uncomfortable. Yet, the praise I was receiving on that day from a parent of color .. I WANTED TO STAND UP. SHOUT. SCREAM. “You are all flippin’ liars!” Not to the people in the room…
I want to yell “liar” to the people who continually paint the picture of the “angry white male.” I want to yell “liar” to those who say / believe only people of that color know how people of that color feel. Sorry. When anyone gets Cancer (as what my student’s parent is fighting) – color and gender do not matter.
I was reminded “Love” sees no color. “Love” sees no gender.” Seriously. Fight those people who say otherwise. I am going to. I was reminded by a parent and his or her child that “pain” is color blind Cancer is color blind.
We are human! We are human! We are human!