Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just had to say...

I can hear myself saying it, "You could be President of the United States. You can be anything you want to be." Those innocent faces would look back at me and nod politely. In the back of my mind I wondered what they were thinking. Who is this crazy white woman to tell me that I can be the President? What country does she live in? Deep in my heart I wanted to believe that what I was telling them was true. After tonight, I can say those words with renewed conviction. I'm glad I'm here to see it happen.

Our country is changing and it is my hope that it will continue to change. We have much work to do. A couple of weeks ago I was in a small cafe in Lawrence (a nearby college town) having breakfast. Two professors were sitting at the next table having an animated conversation. It was impossible not to eavesdrop. They were lamenting having to teach "those students." The ones that come from "those" school districts. The gist of the conversation was that they don't belong here. They aren't "college material." They complained profusely that they don't have the time or the inclination to help them transition to the college environment. I seethed and fumed, but said nothing. I regret that I didn't challenge them. I contributed to the problem by not speaking out. This conversation isn't unique or rare and takes many forms in institutions of all levels across the country. Those kids can't because...

I am still learning to understand, embrace and value differences and recognize the filters I use to view the world. Those of us who have grown up with the privileges of the white middle class don't understand what it feels like for someone to look at the color of your skin, the school you attend, the neighborhood you live in, or the language you speak and expect less of you.

My career has been about balancing high expectations with support. That is my dream for this country.

31 comments:

simplysewn said...

High expectations, with support. I love that. This has been my mantra with my son for 12 years and is now my mantra for the kids I work with on a daily basis. Without high expectations, kids have nothing to strive for. Without support, they have difficulty reaching. Together, anything can be reached with a lot of sweat equity and love. Thanks for the post.

Margret said...

Here, here! Just when I think we are making progress in regarding skin color with as little importance as eye color, or fingernail length, or foot size...someone proves that we still have a long way to go. However, with the amount of racial and religious strife fueling wars in the world today, I think we can see that we have, indeed, come far enough to be proud, but not far enough to quit working at it.

em's scrapbag said...

You are making a difference! By small and simple things great things come to pass

henny said...

I like you post. Trully, actually we're the same people inside although we're different in the outside. I think we can start from our little community -family and friends- first to reach that dream.
Although I'm not US residence, but I like your young 'future' president. I hope he would really make a CHANGE to your country and maybe the world :)

Btw, I still waiting for your recommend where should I start to learn quilting?

Jacquie said...

Henny,
Could you email me so I can get back in touch with you. I can't figure out how to find you to answer your questions.

Tine said...

I think racism is really hard to fight. It is a horrible way to discriminate, and I find it very hard to talk to people who are racist. I get so angry with their arrogance!
As a Dane (not happy with our current gvnmt) I am following your election and keeping my fingers crossed :-)

nicolette said...

Here Here for you indeed! The colour of your skin should never ever be of influence on your skills, on your dreams, your goals. Good for you to support with high expectations, no matter what skin colour. It’s the only way to make kids believe in themselves!

I’m so glad to finally read a post on an American blog about all that’s happening in the US.

We have been following everything overhere (Holland) and there’s a lot of media-attention. The whole week we had live TV programmes from the democratic convention in Denver. We are anxious to see if Mr. Obama will succeed in becoming the next president. And when he does if he will be supported to make that difference.

mellyandrosie said...

Bravo, fabulous post!!!!

QuiltedSimple said...

What a great post! And yet too often, you see kids who don't have the same experiences due to many factors beyond their control - it's sad, really. This country needs a major shake up or it really will only get worse!
Kris

magikquilter said...

here here!

Alissa said...

I could not agree more. I really truly respect your wonderful thoughts here. There IS lots of work to do and how amazing that you are effecting lives on a daily basis. Let's hope our next president is one who represents the future and these kids, and not the past.

Morgan said...

Great post!

ellen said...

I couldn't agree more and really can't add to what has already been said here, such thoughtful responses to your important words. So many things need changing in our country, indeed in this world. I pray that the little flames of hope that have been lit, will be fanned into a brilliant and bright future for all people.

Madge said...

Wonderful post. Living in the south, I have overheard conversations I wish I would have commented on. I loved this post. Last night was wonderful, my children are growing up in a world where a black or woman president is a possibility, probably a reality very soon. with all the bad out there, at least they have this, which is more then i had at that age....

Doris said...

Oh Jacquie, what a wonderful post. Thank God we have teachers like you who can make a difference and encourage "those kids" to make a difference.

froghair said...

hear hear! thank you for this post.

iknitipurl said...

I'm not really sure what to say. I find it hard to fathom that there are still places and people where ignorance is accepted and so commonplace. It seems that our country hasn't come as far as we'd like to believe. Maybe one day?

Victoria said...

Wonderful post, bless you!
I cried last night watching the convention. To think that it was on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. And to realize that it took 45 years from that day before we reached this day. I finally have hope in my heart, too. I hope that soon all the walls that keep people out will be torn down and that each person; man, woman, black, white, gay, straight, young or old, will have an opportunity to truly reach their full potential without anyone standing in their way. Imagine what a beautiful world that would be.

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

What a lovely post.

Leanne said...

Great post Jacquie..I wish I had your words.

mau said...

Here,Here....How much more can be said but what is being said here...I applaud you and everyone here..tears come just to think how people still feel in this country we live in. How I fought for my children to get a good education when certain people said I don't know. Well the I don't knows should meet my daughter with a PhD from Yale and alumni from Princeton. My PuertoRican family. And still it will linger...But I stand and applaud for everyone. GOD bless us all.
Ok enough of the serious stuff and back to quilts..:) Beginner here, I have made 4 blocks, 10X10 and this is just the beginning.

MightyMom said...

and a good dream at that!

Keep up the good work.

Rebekah said...

How inspiring! My friend teaches in Detroit Public Schools and she has many of the same laments that you have. I'm so excited to see how this election shapes up!

sarahmurray said...

Beautifully said. There is only one race, the human race. x

Amy said...

That is a very moving post Jacquie. It was an historic event indeed.

Colleen said...

This discrimination reminds me of an event that happened to us not lot ago and my son is white and from I guess "middle class." I can't imagine the frustration and injustice some other children face.

A policeman came to my door one day. He asked me if I had a tall, teenage boy with long hair here. I said yes and called for him to come upstairs. Mitchell came into the living room wide eyed and said “what’s going on??” Good question! I asked the officer what this was about and he said he received a complaint about a suspicious looking boy running down their street. He said the person said this boy was running and then stopped and looked in their garage. It seems this person then stalked the rest of his run and followed him to see him run in our garage, and called the police. Mitchell said he was out running and stopped at a street corner and bent over catching his breath. He could hear talking and looked towards it, never leaving the sidewalk, but then it stopped. He didn’t think anything of it and continued his run home.

This person (one of my neighbors?!) looked at my son and didn’t see a wonderful, smart and talented young person who has never been in a bit of trouble, he saw a criminal based only on his appearance. The police officer said “just don’t do it again.” I was outraged! I said “don’t do what again??? Can he not jog in his own neighborhood?” He said “look ma’am, I just received the complaint and I’m required to follow up on it" and left.

This is probably nothing compared to what some other children face on a daily basis. Sad!!

tiffany said...

Thank you for a great post.

Jackie said...

So well said!

susan said...

woohoo jacquie for president!!
i too get disgusted and disheartened when i hear people speak about or send emails about those less fortunate in a poor light. it just makes me try to be an even better person tomorrow. i know i cant change others, but i can be a good example and not let others speak like that in front of me or to me

Meredith said...

Hi Jacquie - Thanks for your nice comment on my quilt - I was reading through some of your recent posts and when I came to this one I realized something - if we actually knew each other, we would be great friends! :)

Miss Lady Bug said...

This is a great post and it shows what a big heart you own. But more than this it is fresh and new air for those like me who had come to think that we are somehow rolling down a slope without brakes.

Here we have similar problems with immigration and the differences growing between classes and so I undestand your point. I hope more people would think like you and surely a better world would be possible.

We are hopefully following all the changes going on in the US and we know even if it happens that we still had a long way to go but let it happen and then we'll start to push forward.

Thanks for your nice thinking (^.^)