Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK Day


For those who know me, I'll preface this post by saying I'm not bitter because I have to go to school today.

When I woke up, I was reminded why today is significant as soon as I turned the computer on and saw the Yahoo! banner at the top of the page. It's nice to have a day on which we can take some time to honor not only one man, but also struggles of minorities who have worked to break the chains of inequality. Honestly, if it weren't for people like MLK, I probably wouldn't be married to Rachel today.

Since my district has chosen to have today serve as a make-up day for days lost to inclement weather, I stopped to consider what message it sends to kids — if anything at all. I realize most of the students I have probably wouldn't have done anything today anyway, except sleep in late and not even give a thought about MLK or any of today's significant meanings.

Does taking the day off away from us say, "We don't care about black people" or "We don't respect people from other races or cultures." Both are bold statements, and they are only my ponderings. I don't think anyone said that nor do I think any of my administrators really would think that. I just wonder if there aren't underlying or subconsciousness thinking that would lead people to not think twice about using MLK Day as a snow make-up day.

Maybe I'm making to much of it, but I already struggle with backward thinking when it comes to some sheltered students — as do many foreign language teachers. How can we teach our kids to respect other cultures and other types of peoples? I try in the classroom, but what does the culture around us do to do that? It's something to think about.

I better go for now, but I was just thinking about this. What are your thoughts?

2 comments:

Newsy said...

Aaron, as a teacher who had an inservice today and whose students had the day off... I have a feeling that your district likely was able to honor MLK more than those who choose to miss the day out of respect, political correctness, or whatever the reason may be. Just because you happen to have school on a day that is recognizing the accomplishments of someone doesn't mean that it belittles them or is a lack of disrespect. Had we have had class, I would have had them watch CNN and their uninterrupted version of MLK's I Have A Dream Speech. If two of my students watched it today (out of my 120) I will buy someone a Pepsi.

All of that to say this... I actually think being out of school today does students a disservice in some ways.

Aaron said...

Yeah, most of my kids wouldn't even have given Martin Luther King, Jr. a single thought today had they not been in school. I completely agree with your point.

I think I just struggle because I feel like there are attitudes that tend to scoff at days like today.

I don't know what my problem is. I never felt the way I felt prior to the election. I mean, heck, I married a black person five years ago and that didn't make me feel funny about people in the area. I'm going out on the line here, but I feel like there is just some underlying racism in the Ozarks that just exists and it just feels like there's nothing that can be done about it. I'm not talking about people who are blatantly racist, but rather people who subconsciously racist — or maybe those who just lean more toward people of their own race. Who is the more appealing job candidate to a majority of people in the Ozarks, a white blue-eyed person or a black natural-hair-wearing person?

And see, I feel like I'm getting too radical with this. I don't think about this much, and racism isn't something that blatantly plagues us here in Springfield. But I think that once you live somewhere else and come back, there's just something there that you never realized before. I can't quite get my finger on what exactly it is, but there's just some funniness here that I never thought about much prior to this election.

I think there were a lot of people who talked bad about Barack Obama simply because he is black. They covered it up with things they "disagreed" with him on, but I don't think it was a simple disagreement of opinions or ideas for running the country. I think it was that he was different, and I think there are a lot of people in this area who don't like anything or anyone who is different. I guess I'm just a little frustrated with that.

Wow, did I go off on a tangent or what?