Thursday, October 18, 2007

Baggage. Got Luggage?

I am serving as a helper in "room mom" duties, a concept invented in the suburbs. When I was growing up there was no "room mom" - there were a host of parents that stepped in to make stuff for bake sales, come to school for special events, or drive car pool for field trips. My mother worked out of necessity and was good at what she did, and she missed the memo on taking off work for field trips to places we went together to see on Saturday. I was whole-heartedly unprepared for the class of women that were created through this process. That is until this year.

I was having a conversation with a room mom who asked how our year was going. I took for granted that she wanted to hear the answer and I am no slacker myself - I can hold my own in the volunteer world for blessing classrooms. I responded honestly - its been a bit of a tough year. My academic genius is struggling a bit - in all areas, but mainly socially. I stated that the lack of cultural diversity and the absence of people of color remained a bit of an issue, even more so as the children grow up. Let the defensiveness begin.

After a few minutes of opining about how everyone is nice to my children, I clarified that I was not discussing nice. If you put your child in a classroom or school full of people from a different culture, we could all be very nice, but your dear child would notice that he/she was different. I was beginning to feel overly agitated. I was heading down a difficult road.

My first commitment is to my children and building their self-esteem to be able to cope with any situation. I'm just not sure I want to spend most of my life focusing on coping skills instead of fostering learning and enjoying childhood. I clarified my feedback in the conversation and explained we picked a Christian school because it was our belief that the most important commonality was values in a learning environment. I went on to say that Christianity doesn't mean, however, that people aren't diverse with their own priorities, interests and cliques.

Room mother insight, "Well we all have our baggage." Excuse me, pardon me, I think I've choked on my latte. Did I say that being a person of color was baggage or a burden? My children carry their ray of sunshine brightly in the midst of what can be unbearable circumstances. And now, being Black is just , baggage.

I wonder what the baggage is when history is filtered as to be more fiction than reality, when the staff and leadership doesn't reflect the student body much less the society, and when becoming a room mom is a power structure of homogeneous folks who often don't have a clue - can we say gang habits? I have finally decided that I'm pretty much done. So much for the education process of people who don't want to be educated. As a mom, I need not lead the class when my children are struggling to find their way in a world that believes color blind is terrific, and not a tragedy. The lesson her - 100% mine and 0% hers.

As moms we must carry a lot of things to make our children's lives work - we carry diaper bags, changes of clothes, purses, money, soccer gear, gymnastics gear, spare snacks, chapter books, life lessons, emergency medical cards, pocket games, grocery lists, to do lists, thank you lists......but be careful not to carry baggage. I mean really, you can fit or blend in, but don't just rock the boat - that would be uncivilized. As for me and my house - we don't subscribe to sanitized living where you deny race and culture, and we're, uhhh, umm Black folks. I guess for some that means we've got baggage, but I'm going to go with we've got work to do. Work building our children and our family, because in 2007 - We Are the World just isn't playing in the background as a soundtrack. I for one am worried about gang violence in my suburban area - the kind in private schools with cliques of women who paint th world with one broad stroke.

Stupidity. I mean't ..... well, for now I meant exactly what I said. Stupidity.

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