by Karen Holbrook
inspired by Gabriela Salazar’s demo-lesson
It was my first-year teaching, my heart was bursting with love for my kindergarten students. The year went by so quickly, in February we were preparing for some guest speakers from the Administration Office to join us to celebrate African American month. My first thoughts were “Why just African American and not all cultures, why just for a month, shouldn’t we celebrate all year, everyday?” As I explained to my students how exciting it would be for us to have African Americans come read to us, I could sense their excitement. We took a week to read stories from African American authors and I felt proud of the discussions and learning that took place.
The big day arrive and we were ready to be the perfect audience. We opened the door of the classroom and headed down the quiet hallway. When we got to the cross-section of the hall an African American gentleman walked in front of us escorted by our principal who was also African American. Suddenly, out of the silence a young voice proclaimed, “Look Ms. H it’s an African American Reader!”
I felt heat come across my whole body as my principal turn sharply and gave me a glare I will never forget. She moved her eyes away from me and down to the child who proudly stood beside me and who was African American himself. She looked startled, quickly gave a slight smile and continued walking down the long hall.
When we returned to class, I listened to the students talking enthusiastically about all the stories they had heard. My thoughts began to wonder, “at what age or time do we lose the innocence of seeing and celebrating people and their cultures to a shift of color, race, and stereotypes?”