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My second grade teacher was radical (For Johanna). #BlackenAsiaWithLove

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My second grade teacher

 Took us to her house.

It was the first time I’d been in a white, middle-class house.

In the East End.

Walking distance from the park!

We walked there from our field-trip to the zoo,

And I was aware that this was a white neighborhood.

I was aware that some of my classmates lived nearby –

They pointed it out along the way: “Oh, there’s my bus.”

Some of my white classmates lived in the East End.

I was also aware that most-if-not all of the black people lived on the other side of town –

we caught the same bus home.

Separate, but equal.

And unlike our days spent at school,

The bus was either black or white.

This was all of our first chance to meet outside the classroom, in a home.

We were six and seven years old.

My second-grade teacher took us to her house.

She wasn’t bragging about her gigantic house.

No, she wasn’t trying to show off to us.

Even at that age I could tell that she just wanted to expose us,

To help us get to know how everyone in our city lived,

And that every part of town was ours.

And that we should expect to be in each other’s house.

And that even teachers have a life.

(BTW, I am suggesting that us educators are essential workers).

My second-grade teacher took us to her house.

She’s a white woman, and I was a black boy.

She lived in the white part of town, and I in the black.

Our worlds were different,

Yet we were one, under her care.

Momma taught me that she could trust different people with my care.

I learned that I could care about all different people.

Suddenly instead of her students she treated us like guests.

She respected us and we respected her home.

She told us about the people in the pictures on the walls,

And the places she’d been to collect all those interesting things.

(I wanted to go places, too.)

We knew the profundity of the experience.

Even at that age we knew that race and class should have kept us apart,

At least according to the world outside our class.

It was all our first year at that school,

And we quickly learned that everyone knew THAT skewl was kewl.*

Radical.

When knew our teacher was radical.


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