Story -

Child Development

Child Development

Ferguson Missouri, March 18th, 2016 I was starting my first day at the child development center of McCluer High school. I was assigned to the 5-6 year olds and had heard nothing but good reviews from my older brother. He told me stories of the hilarious things the kids would say and how they would interact with each other. Even though you're supposed to say you don’t have a favorite kid, almost everyone had one when you went to this class. I not only went into the class with the intention of enjoying an hour free from work and full of play time with kids but also with the intention to get them “hip” on the racial issues and disparities some are born within this world. I wanted to make sure they knew early the thoughts of the world so that they could be little Jesse Williams’ walking around speaking nothing but truth and starting on the road to consciousness at a young age.
It’s Ferguson Missouri, March 18th, 2016 and it was my first day going to the children’s class. I was practically bursting with joy at the fact that I was going to spark all these beautiful minds with the wisdom I have gained and give them the head start on life that I didn’t have. I had practiced all week about the answers to questions, the events I would tell them about, and the truth I would pass onto them. I even wore a shirt that read “ I MET GOD, SHE’S BLACK”, just as an icebreaker. I went down the hall more nervous than excited now. I knew that kids were normally brutally honest and I was wondering what they would think of me. Being pleasantly plump I thought to myself; Will they think I’m fat? Will they think I’m ugly? Will they judge my Afro?  I walked closer to the classroom and was introduced by the teacher. There were ten white children and one black in the child development center of this predominantly black school. They all greeted me with hellos and smiles as I made my way to sit down. I watched as the children laughed at each other and played with each other. Giggling and being like such ...kids! I caught myself smiling at the way they would ask questions and see the world, explaining things to each other and sometimes even me. Just when I was getting settled in, the teacher had instructed me to help with the children’s snacks. As I opened the snacks the black girl asked me what my shirt said. And with that question, the only thing I broke was the expectations I had for myself coming into that classroom. All of a sudden the excitement I had before, the prepared answers I formulated for every question they would throw at me dissipated. I could tell she was seeing the inner struggle going on in my mind as I tried to get my mouth to form the words I had practiced so many times. She looked at me waiting for my answer as a thousand wheels started turning in opposite directions in my head. I was malfunctioning. I can't remember what I did next but I think I told her,  it was just something I made up.
For the rest of the hour, my mind had developed a gray cloud of confusion over it. What happened? Why didn't you do as we practiced? You still have a chance while we are in here. Come on, what's wrong with you? Then it seemed to hit me. As I looked around at all the boys and girls playing and getting along I realized that they weren't fully knowledgeable on what the world was going to throw at them yet. I realized that TECHNICALLY it wasn't my job to teach the children of others what my beliefs were. I realized I'm not sure if I want to taint these kids minds with the problems of the real world. I realized I wasn't sure if I wanted to be the one to make their imagination crumble around them in an attempt to make them face the harsh realities of the world so soon. Did I really want to make her see her counterparts differently already? Did she already feel different around them? Could what I chose to say in that moment, have changed her life forever? These are questions I still haven’t been able to answer with a yes or no. When people speak of the gray area in questions I always thought that there can always be a yes or no, when in fact life is full of maybe’s and maybe nots’. Did I want her to see her peers differently, yes but I didn’t want her to hate them, just to know how their lives and our lives are intertwined. Did I think she already felt different around them, that’s hard to say, minority kids tend to realize how they are treated in the world before whites realize their privilege in the world? Could what I chose to say at that moment have changed her life forever, maybe and maybe not. Part of me feels like, with myself included, when you learn the perils you have been born with were caused by Caucasoids, it's a thin line between cordial and hatred. This question is so loaded because I could never know if I would turn her into Bob Marley, the man who called for peace among everyone and wants everyone to prosper or Malcolm X the man who wanted blacks to prosper and thought of whites as subordinate. But then again maybe if I had of said what I intended to say to her it could have made her into a woman like Dorothy Height, the president of the National Council of Negro Women, a woman who fought for equal rights for women and African Americans as well as help lead the  integration of all the YWCA facilities in 1946. Maybe just maybe, she could have inspired hope and made the world a better place by making lemonade out of the beautiful vibrant lemon skin she was born with.
It was Ferguson Missouri, March 18th, 2016 when I realized that the world was more complicated to explain than I had previously imagined. I often times still look back at that day wondering if I did the right thing by not speaking up, and every time I went to that class from then on I was reminded of the crack I had in my plan. Then children would greet me with smiles and hellos ,while playing ,laughing, giggling, and sometimes crying ...and I seemed to forget what I realized, until I stepped out those doors of child fun and imagination, back into the real world and the life of an African American teenage girl living in Amerikkka, on March 18th, 2016.
Final Thoughts: The question remains, is losing childhood imagination, a small sacrifice to make, to get a humbling head start on the harsh realities we face in the world, to learn and be educated early on the system and how we can change it? Maybe it's the smallest sacrifice needed to make sure that we raise strong-minded, and well-educated warriors in this world, not just sheep. Or maybe,  just maybe we should hold on to that innocence for as long as possible, and when it’s time to face reality we don’t shy away but are ready to suit up with the amor and drive of our ancestors...and crusade.

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