These little guys greeted me this morning in all their hilarity. They are so young that they do not have their flight feathers yet. This encounter got me thinking as I walked past a swastika freshly spray-painted on a park bench next to the sign that read “Black Lives”. How many affinity groups do I belong to? Many…and none, yet if you look at me, you see a white woman. I am going to tell you a story, not because I want sympathy, but because polarity exists everywhere in humanity.
I grew up in a factory town that was founded by the British and built by the hands of the Irish. Italians were brought in to work in the factories. When I was in elementary school, there was an influx of Black children, Cape Verdian Islanders, and children from Cambodia and Vietnam. On a very hot and humid day at the beginning of June, we were waiting outside in line to come in for recess. I was thirsty, tired, and only in third grade. The Principal stood on the steps and said, only blond, red hair, blue-eyed children to the front of the line. I started to cry and a little black boy held my hand. We were last to come in and there was no time for us to get drinks before the bell rang again. I became a teacher because of that and other experiences. I have worked hard to create a safe space for all the children who have come into my rooms.
It is not a clash between black and white that is the worst threat, but the opening of an opportunity for totalitarianism to step in and decide if there is value to the color of any skin. I forgive myself every day for my shade.