Her name (as given by Elsa) is Pearl.
And here they are on night one:
The misadventures of a single California girl raising her Habesha child.
A few more thoughts on my desire to see more black kids in Elsa’s classroom (as opposed to being spread out among the three pre-K classrooms).
I had a lightbulb moment when I talked to the Head of School.
He said, basically, that it would take a huge effort to make it happen, and it would cause a LOT of controversy.
I had given him all my reasoning (as described in my follow-up letter), and — after a fair bit of prodding, extracted his personal opinion (based on the research out there and his own research for his doctorate in Education) that clustering children of color together is better for them.
But then he said: we are going to have to go to the mat on this one.
I was feeling really dense, and then he said: the white parents won’t like it.
And I sat there, feeling even more dense.
Somehow managing not to notice I was being slow, he continued: they are paying 25 grand a year for diversity. And so they want Elsa (or someone who looks like her) in their child’s class. They won’t be happy with an all-white class.
I keep going back to this thought, because it is so obvious. But I was so oblivious. Of COURSE they want a black kid in their child’s classroom. Diversity is hard to find in our very white homogeneous county. And the more kids of color you can put in a predominantly white classroom, the better.
Except it’s not better for the kids of color. At all.
So who do they satisfy? The majority of the parents, who have white kids at the school and want to see diversity in their classroom? Or the minority of parents, who have kids of color who would be better served by all being in the same classroom?
It’s a sticky wicket.
If I had a white kid, I’d want kids of color in my kid’s class. But then again, I would never even have considered whether it was similarly beneficial (or even detrimental) to the minority kids to be spread out to satisfy this desire.
Yet another sign of my white privilege – never crossed my mind.
But now I’m thinking – I totally should go to the mat. I am white. The other white parents will have a harder time dismissing me as having a racial agenda.
And I can relate to them. Right?
Or am I stirring up unnecessary controversy?
just sent this off to the new(ish) Head of School. had a tête-à-tête with him last week, and was very impressed. he’s an African American man with a
Masters Doctorate in Education and he knows his shit. we touched on this very possibly inflammatory topic and he asked me to send him an email. so i did.
this could get interesting…
Hi [Head of School],
Thanks again for your time on Thursday morning – it was great to get to chat in person and hear your thoughts about [the school]‘s future.
I wanted to reiterate my concerns and thoughts regarding children of color and their classroom assignments in the [pre-k/k] program.
To be sure, it is a benefit to white children to have children of color in the classrooms. This is one form of the diversity that parents are looking for when they bring their children to [the school]. However, common sense dictates (and I believe research confirms) that clustering children of color together is better for them. They do not take on the burden of being the representative for an entire group or race, they do not feel conspicuous, they have others with whom they share experience, and they feel more safe and “normal”.
Especially in a place like [our whitey-white county], not only is it critical for children of color to have teachers who look like them, it’s vital that they have peers who look like them. And a critical mass of peers is necessary, not a token one or two. Put simply, having six or seven other black kids in a class is clearly a different, and better, experience for a black child than being one of only two or three.
Sadly, there are not enough children of color in the [school] community to form critical mass in more than one classroom (an issue to tackle in another email…)
So the question becomes this: will [the school] cluster children of color together in one [pre-k/k] classroom to best serve those children, or will the school distribute them throughout the three classrooms, to best serve the majority who want diversity?
I feel strongly that the former is the right thing to do. These kids have enough of a burden to carry; we should not ask them to sacrifice their comfort and quality of their educational experience to benefit others.
I hope you agree, though I do understand this topic is controversial at best, and it may be difficult for you to take a public position on it.
Please let me know what I can do to help and advocate for our children of color in the [pre-k/k] program.
what a weekend my family and friends gave to me.
a lovely row saturday morning, thanks to my sister, who babysat Elsa. a mellow afternoon with Elsa, followed by a super-fun dinner with good friends. sunday morning breakfast out with my girl, then a playdate with friends. sunday afternoon i was escorted to a SURPRISE birthday party organized by my sister and my mom. so many loved ones there. i was totally shocked, and totally overwhelmed with gratitude.
i have felt unhinged for so long.
today, for the first time in a long long time, i feel… hinged.
if only i could be:
strong yet gentle and sweet, always
sensitive to suffering in those around me, and lean in to comfort them
fiercely protective of the ones i love
able to bounce back from a horrific start to become the most loving companion possible
patient and uncomplaining
wanting only to please
unfailingly affectionate, even when neglected
happy simply to lie in the sun, smell the wind, run in the grass
truly present in each and every moment
devoted, in the truest sense of the word
then – perhaps – i could be half of the wonderful being that you are.
that you were.
i will never forget you, my beloved India