Saturday, August 21, 2004

Jim Crow Ain't Dead

The other night, I went to watch an open-captioned movie at Lincoln Center. Afterwards, I mingled with other movie patrons in the lobby. I was introduced to a deaf teacher who works with deaf students. Somehow, we started talking about the regent tests. She stated that her students scored poorly, looked around, then pointed her finger to her hand... stating that it was due to their color, being black and spanish as the reason for doing poorly. I stopped breathing, and my eyes darted to someone who saw what the teacher just said.

I was about to need air resusciation and CPR the moment I realized what she just said.

That other person was also startled. She later told me that she thought, "Jim Crow ain't here anymore. Ah!"

Both of us struggled to keep our faces straight. I had met this person only few virgin minutes ago, and my virgin impression of her was forever shattered by her finger pointing-to-hand comment.

Think of how deaf students of color pick up on messages like this teachers like her. How does this help them with learning when they're already dealing with oppression and racism in their daily lives? The classroom shouldn't be one of these places.

I can't stop thinking about this teacher. I do not know if I will say something to her the next time I see her or .... What do you think?