Affinity Groupings

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.

6 thoughts on “Affinity Groupings

  1. This right here, brought tears to my eyes:
    “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”
    and I almost backed out of reading the rest because the pain is so fresh and raw, but I wanted to finish. Thank you for the work you do, Maria. Children need more teachers who do not look at their skin as an affront and are eager to help all of them build and move towards an appropriate education.

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    1. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your thoughts. I was so afraid to post this. I moved to the Washington DC area to work at a very diverse school, to challenge me and break my heart open. The irony is that I am “white” but I don’t belong there either. My boys are half Jewish. I am done being silent. We can cry together and do some about it.

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      1. America was built on neglecting anyone who doesn’t fit their tiny box of requirements when it comes to race, ethnicity, and culture. It’s really quite sad. It is indeed past time for significant change.

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          1. I love you too. I’ve been reading you for years and you need NO HELP on being honest or true to anyone else. But, I hear you. I see you. I got you.

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