Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Problem

One of the reasons I'm back in Texas is that my kid and my nephew have swim lessons for the next two weeks. They really enjoy it, but my son has one issue, revealed yesterday in a conversation:

Elle: So, how was the lesson?
The Kid: Fine. The teacher says I'm the best back floater ever.
Elle: Well, good. It's still a lot of fun then?
The Kid: Yes, ma'am, but I have one problem.

I had no idea what to expect right here-- a water bully? a new fear of having his face under water?

Elle: What is it?
The Kid: I'm the only (his voice drops to a dramatic whisper) black person in my group.
So, I stare for a moment before coming back with a foundering: What about the other groups?
He does a mental tally and arrives at: Four (including him and my nephew).

Now I want to know why he identified this as a problem. You know, is it a problem because he wants to look like the other kids or is it a problem because he wants more kids that look like him there. After some none-too-sensitive probing, I find out it's the latter (thank God!). So, I launch into an explanation about how, because he takes lessons in a majority white suburb, there are more white children participating. And how, sometimes, it's just like that--using my PhD program as an example.

Only, it's never really "just like that," "that" being some divine, predestined way-it-is that we should understand and accept. No, lots of things made it like that and he's going to want to know about those things. Soon.

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Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...