The most discouraging and shameful act of mankind is that of prejudice and lack of tolerance for difference, individuality, and diversity. As a mother, I know that this is an especially poignant lesson that I must teach my daughter as she negotiates through life as a woman and person of color. This week alone has shown me that the grotesque face of racism and the strong stench of stereotypes still permeate our society.
As an advocate for the humanities and program coordinator, I seek to bring together various cultures and communities – creating hybrid, diverse spaces of learning. The vast colors, personalities, and cultures excite me and encourage me to be myself and enjoy the goodness of our diversity and difference, smelling the sweetness of the blending our diasporic, social recipes. It brings me such joy to see how far we have come as a society in difference, yet it saddens me to see how we inform our children with ignorance and hate. Recently, I publicly witnessed an assault on the mind: a father pulled his child away from a program because there were not enough students like her (ethnically) in the group. Personally, I experienced being the victim of preconceived notions as a former mentor turned in disgust as he saw me approaching with my “nearly there” natural hair. I weep for that child who missed a great experience – socially, academically, and culturally. I wept for my feelings – I once looked up to this man for advice and guidance.
I cry no more, though. Empowered by my strenghth and spirit within, I know the value of the program I offered and the intrinsic value of myself. However, these expreiences constantly remind me that I have an important job to do: teach my child the lesson of love, and be an advocate for equality and diversity. Maya Angelou commented, “I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.” “If I do that well enough,” she adds, “then I’ll be able to look after someone else — the children or the husband or the elderly.” Nia (my beloved daughter), I promise to be a good teacher. In the words I speak and the actions I make, I promise to be true and sincere in all I do. I promise to teach you the lesson of love – love for God, yourself, and mankind. Without this, life is futile.
This is my promise to keep.