Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Motion Tabled

Last week, my younger son was enjoying lunch with friends at the Large High School cafeteria, when he was informed by some of his fellow students that he and his group were sitting at the "black" table. My son and his friends were not to be easily deterred: they claimed that they had a right to be at the table, and that the student body should be one community anyway. Those that were staking out the table for "blacks only" weren't buying it. So, one of the boys took a different tack. "Well, I am black," he stated, his blond hair and northern European features giving the lie to his declaration. This strategy did not dissuade the claimants. Despite the objections, the boys held their ground until the end of their meal. When they got up to throw away their trash, the encroaching party at last won the day and took their seats.

When I heard the story, I was saddened, and a bit angered. Had we made so little progress in the last 50 years that our children still openly used race to include or exclude? And what would be the reaction, if someone had placed a "coloreds only" sign on the table? My own highschool experience at The Central Highschool in the late 70s saw plenty of racial incidents, but it was rare that anyone of any race would be so overt in their racism. On reflection, though, I found something about which to be positive. At The Central Highschool, a similar incident would have probably ended violently, especially if the party had decided to hold its ground as my son's party did. The incident at the Large Highschool ended peacefully, and my son did not indicate that he felt threatened. Perhaps this is all the progress I can expect.

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."
- Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963



Blogger Dennis Watson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Rambling Speech said...

That's sad. I had almost this exact same incident happen 10 years ago at my highschool. I had to eat at a different lunch hour due to a project and me and my friends working on the project went to sit at our usual table. A few minutes into lunch some black girls came up and told us it was their table. We slid down and invited them to use the larger end and explained that we were just there for the day. They didn't like that and responded "this is where the black girls sit!"-- I pointed out there was plenty of room and btw hi nice to meet you. It was the first time I've ever been physically thrown against a wall! (yes, thrown, as in, couldn't catch my breath afterward). Ours did not end as nicely as your son's-- still makes me sad. Sadder still that it happens repeatedly. Reverse discrimination is as bad as the original idea-- both ideas need to be chucked.

10:59 AM  
Blogger The unconventional mother said...

Wow...catching up on your blogs...these problems don't seem to go away do they.

7:13 AM  

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