Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The nice White lady

Because I am White, I am sobered and always a little disturbed by videos like this one:

Though I chuckle in disdain at how we always elevate "the White lady" in heroic ways, I also feel the video is somewhat unfair. There *are* white ladies who do this. They love and inspire kids. They help students discover the power of their voices. They have a connection with the kids.

The problem is, it's not *just* white ladies who do this. I think of my friends Dave Herman, Jennifer Stimpson, Sylvia Baylor, Anna Hart, John Carter, Kevin Mondy, Anabeli Ibarra, Ramiro Luna, Liz Cedillo, and so many others who do so much to influence kids, families, community, and society.

I appreciate the comments of Eugene Cho on his post here.

Some of his comments:

  • In the big picture, it’s not about the nice white lady … it’s about those with power, privilege, and opportunities, and how we share them with others to empower. Many of us who are reading this likely fall under “the have’s” rather than the “have not’s”…

  • It’s not just about the nice white teacher. It’s about the students: young women and men that need opportunities, need to be lovingly challenged and encouraged, and need folks to believe and invest in them.

  • The frustration is when we exclusively elevate the nice white lady when we should be praising so many of the educators in our society.
It's not at all that "the White lady" doesn't have anything to offer. There are some great teachers and mentors who have helped provide opportunities and experiences and direction that haven't been available. The problem with raising up and lauding "the White lady" is that too often we leave out or don't take time to get to know the other people who have also made such a difference in the kids' lives.

...people who have always lived in the community

...people who do what they can to inspire the kids, despite their lack of resources.

...people of color who have gone off to college, gotten their degree, and still feel the importance of returning to their old neighborhood or a similar neighborhood, to "give back"

It doesn't matter what color you are. The people who make a difference are the people who invest in kids in a real and meaningful way. And we need more of these people.
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