Last week, two of my sweet kiddos had an epiphany. I, Ms. Dunn, am white. This realization presented itself following a comment I made about being their only white teacher. We have a new Hispanic student who the students LOVE to bombard with questions and pitiful attempts to speak to her in Spanish. After several minutes of her frantically trying to understand a single word being said, I halted the conversation and asked the students to imagine how it must feel to be brand new, not knowing anyone, AND stand out in appearances. I told them that I appreciated how well they had accepted me when I first started and that our new friend deserves the same respect.
..a long pause…
One student staring at me in disbelief while another addresses their suddenly ever-present elephant in the room.
“Ms. Dunn, you’re white?”
Muffling a belly laugh, “Baby, what did you think I was?
Shrugging, “Ion know. I just thought you was a light skin”
“No, baby. I’m sorry it took us 11 weeks to realize, but I’m white. Is that okay?” Still giggling.
“Sure, I don’t care”
If that isn’t a lesson to be learned then let us all be ignorant. See people before you see color. Recognize their thoughts, dreams, beliefs, goals, and efforts before describing an appearance. Hug the student who smells, high five the one who always looks angry, compliment the ones that make it hard to be kind. The outside isn’t a representation of what the inside is like. My kids see me as Ms. Dunn, their math teacher, their english teacher, their tutor, and hopefully their friend. Beyond that, its an epiphany. For that I am thankful.