Maybe it started as an accident when you decided to tell two teachers that “those kids can’t learn, and they’re all from southeast. I hate to say it, but they just can’t learn.” Maybe what you meant was that the way the system is set up, institutional we make it harder for them to learn, we have created unnecessary roadblocks and irrelevant curriculum, we push them from being able to learn easily.
It became a mistake when you didn’t accept our correction, when we told you, “it’s not that they can’t learn – they can learn – but they learn in a different way.”
It became a mistake when you boasted that no one in your family had ever gone to an HBCU before your niece recently turned down a full ride to Cornell to attend Tuskegee (and I hope you did it proudly, sweetheart). It became a mistake when you told us you volunteer for a college prep program and “those kids” don’t even talk the same – that you “can’t have a conversation with them” – despite “wanting” to. Bullshit, mother fucker. Bull. Shit.
If you wanted to, you would step down from your high damn pedestal and open your goddamn mouth. If you wanted to, you would sit beside them instead of standing over them, becoming something almost worse than the white patriarchy that put both of you down. If you wanted to, you would take the money and degree from your New York stock broker school out of your ears and listen to the beauty of their easy language, their American Creole, their DC twanging slang.
But you don’t know who you are, sitting wrapped up in an identity based on multiple cars, a lifestyle of eating out every day (excuse me for my nasty Rubbermaid lunch container rolling around in your trunk), and children in a premiere charter school for which your lawyer wife sits on the board. I couldn’t help but wonder if she condemns my talented southeast loves for embracing themselves too, hiding away in the wealth and PWI education and American Dream fantasy with her arrogant husband who puts down his own race. Did money make you two a separate kind of black? Did it excuse you from experiencing racist obstacles? Does it make your sons immune to police brutality? Does them learning Mandarin make them more worthy than mine, who could kick their asses and run circles around their heads with only the beats in their hearts? How much money do my children need to make to have such shields? Or is it about the way words sound coming out of your mouth? Is it about keeping the kinky parts shaved or woven out of sight?
Condemn them. Condemn my students, condemn their families, condemn anyone who isn’t trying to “save” or “fix” them, but teach and work with and love them as they are. They aren’t trying to hide it though. They can be genuine. And they deserve so much more than you, so get your proud donor volunteer for the appearance ignorant ass out of their classrooms.
I’m proud of that. And I’m proud of every one of my southeast DC students.
Fuck you, mo.