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.