So, I'm sitting on the subway and of course there are fliers everywhere. One catches my eye which says something along the lines of "Do you remember your first grade teachers name? Have someone remember yours." How sweet, right? Not exactly.
I'm wondering what kind of people this program attracts. Probably white women from out of town trying to "help" out right?
Minnesota anyone? How about Kentucky, or what about Missouri? It’s all the same deal. White people coming to marginalized communities and “giving” back. Shall we call it White guilt anyone? Or can we mistake it for passion?
Some would find this noble, hey even the famed Jackie Kennedy took a pay cut to fulfill her passion, at an astounding rate of $10,000 a year she worked for a small business on the Upper East Side. What a good heart she had.
But I digress.
And what’s more, these fliers on the subway say no experience is necessary. Would you look at that, our children pushed to the bottom, they hafta (yes, I said hafta, it might be a product of my –lack of- education) beg people to come help out. What a shame.
So a friend working at an internship in Harlem working with six year olds had a story for me. On her first day the teacher (who was an older white woman) was leading the class, and introduced all thirty something kids in the room, four were announced as “CB’s”.
What’s a CB you may ask? It’s short for Crack Baby. Their names were not mentioned, solely CB and a handful of other students with other “symptoms” such as DS, come on we can all guess that one, down syndrome. It’s awful right? What kind of system are these children living and working in, if they’re not known for their names or their personalities but only their “defaults” or “syndromes”? What kind of teachers care for them, if they’re not interested in helping them, but rather merely putting up with them? And how are we training these new inexperienced teachers, who know close to nothing about who we are, or where we come from, and all they have to go off of is our symptoms and not our strengths.
I have another friend who works in real estate, and all day long she’s been servicing these people. With questions like, “Is this a safe neighborhood?” “Are there gangs around here?” “Is the subway safe at night?” Well how are we supposed to answer you? Yes, you want to pay under $1500 a month, you get what you pay for. Brown people! Us, the ones you fear which ironically, are also the ones you strive to help. The ones you can “make a difference for” so you can look at the mirror and feel proud that you can look past race, that you miraculously, don’t see color. (As if any Black or Brown person will ever believe that bullshit).
So tell me, Teachers for America, or whatever you decide to call yourselves. The organization that puts inexperienced people, mostly white and thus privileged into the schools that most “sane” teachers run desperately away from. What do you suppose you’ll accomplish? The funneling of Blacks into prison that much quicker?
Black students + White teachers does not = Integration.
But hell you can prove me wrong all you want, I’ll embrace it. I’m just more than a little weary of the hands we’re putting our children in.