I am at this place in my career
Where I am at a loss.
I’ve been a teacher for 22 years
And a student my whole life.
I love research.
I love history, anthropology, religions, literature….
I love digging deep into people’s lives
And how they live or lived.
What was it like?
I don’t read —
I DEVOUR books!
I wrote a paper once about how awful it was
That Bloody Queen Mary beheaded Lady Jane.
I mean, everyone knew she was just a teen-aged puppet
And had no interest in the throne.
I sited 10 sources on the injustice.
And my professor wrote,
“You’re too sentimental”
across the top of my paper.
I hated him.
To me, history wasn’t dead and removed.
They were living, breathing people with experiences
I could share,
And I’m home-schooling my girls now
–which I love.
–which I’ve dreamed of
–which I’ve planned for
–in my head –
But I am at this point
After 22 years, that…
I don’t want to be the one
Who tells them they are different.
That they have a different history than I do.
I find that I avoid certain movies and TV shows
Because I don’t want them
to question why
people don’t like them because
God colored them with a tan crayon.
(That’s what my little one says).
You see, to them,
It’s not black and white,
it’s shades of tan and peach.
I don’t want to explain
The underground railroad
The Trail of Tears
How arbitrary it is that our last name is Womack
Just because it is the last name
of the last white man
Who owned their great-great grandfather
Before the Emancipation Proclamation
And he didn’t bother to change it.
handed down through years and generations
We live in Thailand and China
And they are different
Because they have curly hair.
They are different
Because they are foreign.
They get their pictures taken by strangers
20 times a day.
They are like movie stars.
When we buy groceries,
When we eat out,
When we walk around,
“Stop a minute, this lady wants a picture.”
“Stand next to his daughter there, he wants a picture.”
“The waiters want a picture before we go, girls.”
Mostly, the Asians just want an excuse to touch their hair.
So “different” to my girls, means “Special.”
It means beauty.
It means people love you for how you look.
–Shallow, I know.
But I don’t want to be the one to tell them otherwise.
I don’t even want to put the idea into their head
That there IS an otherwise.
I don’t want to be the one to tell them
That once, they could have been killed for how they looked.
Once, they could have been taken away from me.
That before 1967,
their father and I couldn’t even get married.
That even now,
In this second Civil-War-divided country,
people might think
Or say bad things about them
Even though they don’t know who they are.
That not everyone thinks they are beautiful.
I don’t want them to be naive.
And I have ALWAYS been honest with them.
But, I don’t want
To be the one
To teach them this.