Friday, November 11, 2016

Opportunity Knocking

Did that last essay sound like a prayer for opportunity?

Oops, yes it did.  And I got the phone call at 6:00 pm.

Looky there Sherie - and all the other people who have been telling me to WRITE IT DOWN - someone is listening.  Or at least taking time from His busy schedule to read my blogs!

So yeah, I was pretty impressed with myself after writing that last entry.  Aren't I wise?  Aren't I witty?  Aren't my words going to inspire and unite and change the world?

Note to self: you said no one person would do that, but the collective power of each and every person.

And then Amitee called.  Had the twins told me what had happened in the classroom today?  Her son, Adam, was extremely upset and worried that he was going to get a detention on Monday.  The deputy principal was coming to talk to the entire class on Monday and Adam had been told that the teachers did not want a panicked email from his mother over the weekend; that it was no big deal and they were handling it.

Later, I asked the twins more about it and started texting Amitee some pertinent details Adam had been scared to tell her.  That was when the twins panicked - thinking I was texting their teacher - and said that they had been told not bother their mother with it either.

Which explains why they hadn't told me anything until I questioned them following Amitee's phone call.  Tell THEIR mother not to write or get involved?!  Hah.  Might as well tell her not to breathe!

Jump back almost five years to when I was told by the twins' previous school that I had no right to post negative things about them on facebook.  Huh?  Say WHAT?  They hadn't minded when I raved about the school on facebook and anyway, it's a free country, right?

I remember looking it up.  Yes, Australia IS a free county.  No, it does not have anything in it's constitution about free speech, but it is implied.

In the interest of Adam, and because I DO believe the school has a handle on it and will deal with it properly, I will not send an email.

But I do want to apologise to Mike and to Diana and to Sarah and Ronald and to all those whose plight I trivialised in that last post.  They haven't complained - they are mobilising and hoping for the best - but I feel the shame of a little white girl sitting in Australia telling millions of minorities - racial, religious, sex and otherwise - that it is going to be okay.

I know you will forgive a kind, but still naive, heart.

Adam is being bullied in school.  I don't know if it is precisely because he is black; his parents are immigrants from France, mum white, dad of Moroccan descent.  I like to think that it isn't because of his colour that Adam is the brunt of so much aggression - the twins say it is because he is better at soccer than the bullies and so they say anything to hurt him.

But the twins are also better at soccer and no one is calling THEM  "nigger."

That was a text I did not want to send: telling a mother that little boys are calling HER little boy "nigger."  How does that make a mother feel?

She texted back that yes, Adam confirmed that the boys were calling him that, but he hadn't bothered to tell her because he didn't know what it meant and therefore wasn't offended!

How great is that?!

I felt like I had told him there was no such thing as Santa Claus.

And that, even if there was, he wouldn't be visiting Adam's house, because his father is Muslim.

The problems in the class - and I have noticed increased aggression and inappropriate language and machismo in both twins this year  - goes beyond Adam.  The deputy principal is not coming in because Adam - or one of my twins according to eye-witnesses - called the class bully and his mother 'retarded.'  Or because the bully - who has been calling Adam 'nigger' all year - was so upset by these unkind remarks that he went to the teacher crying.

He is coming in because another boy took a boy's drink bottle, placed it in the toilet and defecated on it.

Boy is the school not going to like me posting that!

At our previous school, the little boy who was smearing his feces on the bathroom walls was - and probably still is since social workers see fit to keep him with his mother and step-father - being abused at home.

I'm not saying, but just saying.

This is in one of the best primary schools in Queensland and a school I admire and respect.

But it shows that there is anger and there is fear and there are little children growing up with both even in our naive little Brisbane area.


("Where Is The Love?"  Black -Eyed Peas.  Maybe I should be playing it on a loop.)

This morning I read a letter written by a little Muslim girl in Melbourne.

While one family is teaching their child the word 'nigger,' (and it is not a word the average elementary school kid would know around here at least) another family is teaching their child she has to be afraid of being Muslim.


Sorry,  I had to play that again.

I don't know what to say.

The first time we went to visit Adam, we brought French bread.  Amitee laughed and pulled out some cheap -store bought white sliced bread that Adam had insisted she buy for our sake.

Adam - and his gorgeous older sister - come from the most amazing family,  Their dad coaches Adam's soccer team and Amitee drives her daughter one hour each way for dance classes.  They both act.  They are bilingual.  And they are beautiful inside and out.

Beautiful inside and out.

And, let's face it, any kid who is learning that kind of language at home, is jealous - whether he knows it or not - of how much Adam has that he doesn't.

I am sad that Adam and his sister have to grow up facing bigotry and ignorance.

I am angry that the bully has to grow up living it.

I am proud that my children see their friend as their friend, not as someone black or as someone with a Muslim father.

When they stand up for Adam, they don't think about a stand against racism or against religious persecution.  (They - I am proud to say - didn't know the word 'nigger' either and - I am less proud to say - keep confusing Morocco with Malaysia - only knowing that it is a different culture and therefore really really cool and interesting.  And it's okay - their five year old brother knows the difference between Morocco and Malaysia!)

They stand up for their friend.

I don't teach my kids that it is okay to be black, that it is okay to be Muslim or that it is okay to be gay.  I teach them that some people are black and that some people are Muslim and that some people are gay.

I ask them if they would like a girl or a boy partner when we play "Life", but I don't ask about their partner's race or religious beliefs.

I just considered using yellow pegs so that I wouldn't have to ask sexual preference either.

But then I remember Morgan Freeman (as the wise Azeem in Robin Hood) answering a little girl's question on if God had painted him and, when he answered yes, on WHY God had painted him:

"Because Allah loves wondrous varieties, " Azeem told the little girl.

I know this has been said before but it can't be said enough: children are not born hating.

So, yeah, I guess the profound message from the little white girl today is this:

One can't use a word one doesn't know, a word one hasn't been taught.

Don't teach you children about black or white, about Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew.

Teach them to love.

Because, unfortunately, others are still teaching theirs to hate.

(The lyrics this time, because I honestly don't know what else to say.)

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