I was walking to the bus station from school one afternoon and I heard two little boys talking. One of them pointed me out and said I was his foreign teacher. His friend replied:
Boy’s friend: We have a foreign teacher too. He’s black.
Boy’s friend: Yeah. He’s from the United States and I think his family used to be slaves.
Apparently there was another foreign teacher and he was teaching them about the history of slavery. How did he get these kids to understand what he’s talking about? He must be a teaching genius because I have hard enough of a time getting the kids to stand up and sit down on command. I couldn’t wait to meet him!
On the bus home as I thought about my deficiencies as a teacher, I overheard this conversation:
Older woman: Did you hear there’s a black teacher in the school. He’s going to scare the children.
Young Mother (obviously embarrassed to be having this conversation): The children will be okay.
Older Woman: I’m sure he will scare the children.
How does that work exactly? Are children scared of the color black? Or maybe she imagined that the Black teacher is going to chase the kids around in a tribal mask if they get a question wrong as a part of a proud African-American tradition. I guess you can’t really make sense of ignorance. In any case, good for the school for hiring him despite of what parents may say! I’m glad this generation of children will be exposed to people of different races. They will not grow up as ignorant as their grandparents.
The next day I met the new teacher in the staff room. I couldn’t help letting out a big “Ha!” and laugh. I met Franklin, a sweet Indian boy who spent a year living in LA. He did not in any way look, act, or sound stereotypically Black. In fact, he had a pretty thick Indian accent.
So… The two foreign teachers this school has:
“Spanish” from Australia = Chinese from Canada
“Black” from US = Indian from India