I always say after 5 years of visits with Maggie I continue to learn.
This past week Maggie and I went to our last school visit of the year. I was telling a 12 year old boy the story of how Maggie got her name…Our family chose a few names and we narrowed it down to two names, Katie and Phoebe. We decided to wait to meet her to choose the final name. But when we met her we decided she looked more like a Maggie then a Katie or a Phoebe. The story continues with when I took Maggie to the Vet the technician that was helping had the name Heidi. I told her that was one of the names we had considered for Maggie. I told her this because I thought she would consider this an honor. But instead she turned to me with a nasty look on her face. The young boy I was talking to asked me if the tech was white or black. Not sure I heard his question properly I asked him to repeat it. When he asked me the question the same way I looked him in the eyes and asked him if it made a difference.
This got me thinking. As a white woman entering a school with a black student population I wonder what they think of me. I look around from time to time and notice a predominately black teacher population (this classroom had a white teacher) Uniforms are enforced and everyone must have an ID as well. Students as well as visitors are buzzed in and adults are monitoring the hallways.
Needless to say I do standout in this particular school, but I never feel threatened. They do love seeing Maggie and generally shout “dog in the hallway!” If anything I am encircled but only to be asked if they can pet Maggie.
But back to the 12 year old boy, at what age did this young boy learn to ask this question.
When I turned it around and asked him if it made a difference he got uncomfortable. He did not answer me and ultimately got up and walked away.
I get that we are a product of our environment. But who is responsible to teach these young minds to look at the world differently? Does it start at home or at the school?