Microaggressions of the Week #1
In Spanish class we were learning the phrase, “donde es” (where are you from) and each student answered with a city or town name. I answered “Westport” and the teacher stopped me to explain the phrase means, “where do you hail from, as in where were you born.”
Interesting how he interrupted me, the obviously non-American looking person in the room. Nobody else was questioned about her origins. Granted I was born in Taiwan, but emigrated as a toddler and sound as Amurikan as the blue-eyed blond woman next to me.
Ever the perpetual foreigner.
Happy Jew Year! (early, because I’ll be at services when the sun actually goes down.) May it be a sweet year for you all.
a change for the better
She told me, more than once: ”We didn’t have kids like these here, before.”
In fact, that statement is mostly true. In perception, it is absolutely.
My district is in a town built on white flight; on one side, it’s bordered by a river some seemed to imagine a moat. In decades past, families moved there to escape those who were different or at least their imagined ghost. But time has moved on, and the suburbs have raced westward, and the old town that was for a time a new refuge is becoming a version of what some of those citizens once fled. That’s why, frankly, there was a job for me out there.
Perhaps you can imagine what that slow transition’s been like, what with the gradually growing numbers of Those People and their kids, what with the path to the present lined with assumptions and attitudes and fear.
But this is a different story. Or at least a different conclusion. A teacher who for twenty-some-odd years had never had a student who spoke a different language at home managed to bring an open mind and heart to the end of her career— as it should be but sometimes isn’t. She had the first of my students in that building, and though she was nervous, in the end, she was delighted. After she retired, she became my enthusiastic sub, mostly just for the chance to talk to them.
This spring, as I may have mentioned, she’s helped me help the senior who intends to go to college this fall. She took her for testing; she showed that nervous, new driver easier routes. When I couldn’t go to commencement, she went, even offering to pick up the girl’s family in the city to make sure they were there. She took pictures, and even had them printed, and even mailed copied to me so I’d have them to put up on the board that is the graphic organizer of my career.
This isn’t an ending, I don’t expect. But it is certainly happy.