I’m excited and can’t wait for my next trip to D.C. Of course, I want to visit the National Mall and stand before those monuments that have always inspired me. And my favorite is the Wall. This time I’ll be looking for West Panel 30 and the names of 11 of Johnny Looker’s brothers in arms who died in March of 1969 in the Battle of Angels Wings in Binh Tay, South Vietnam.
And the newest addition, the National Museum of African American History, has such potential to educate and inspire so many visitors from grade school children who will visit to African-Americans and perhaps to some who have not yet conceded that our history of human bondage reverberates every day in cities and towns across our country.
This reverberation takes a host of forms, but today I want to share with you an experience one of my Facebook friends had recently in her Indianapolis classroom.
All of you have been reading and hearing about the killing of young Black men as had the teacher and her students. She was all prepared with her lesson plan and suddenly felt that it was inadequate and inappropriate as she looked at her students, 98 percent of them kids of color. She decided she needed to switch gears and let the students lead the class that day. They discussed issues such as the first time they experienced racism, what their lives look like on a day-to-day basis and what they fear.
As their stories came tumbling out, she was “heartbroken” and moved to tears as was I when I learned about their stories. Another Facebook friend had already told me that the males in her African-American family fear for their lives. (To those of you who are responding that as long as they are upright citizens and obey the law, they have no reason to fear, I will simply say, “Educate yourself on the many times when being upright and obeying the law has not been enough to keep Black males from being stopped, frisked, and sometimes killed.)
I’d like to share some of the students’ stories on that September day in my friend’s classroom:
• Black sisters, 8 and 9, were riding their bikes in their own neighborhood when they were chased by a truck with adults in the back of the truck pointing guns at them. The truck was flying a Confederate flag.
• A Black teen was driving and noticed she was running out of gas. The attendant at the station where she stopped in Clermont would not take her money or serve her.
• A young black girl was undressing in a middle-school locker room when a white girl began to stare at her. When the black girl asked why she was staring, the white girl answered, “I’m just looking for your tail. Coons have tails.”
The children reported being spit on and always being followed around by clerks when they go into stores.
This teacher was heartbroken and crying as the children spoke, and she says, “This world is NOT okay. We MUST be part of the change. This CANNOT continue to be the narrative.”
And to this, I shout, “A-MEN!”
Vivian Blevins is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.