teaching, learning and living around the world
The first thing Anga asked me this morning was, “Did you see what’s happening in Charlottesville?!”
I clicked through the headlines.
I checked Facebook.
But the image that really MOVED me was this one.
My sister texted it to me.
It was from her friends who are students at UVA right now.
I saw it and cried!
My dear old UVA!
The group text with my UVA rugby pals went from the sweetest images of our crew’s newest baby boy (future bestie of Mandela) born just a few days ago… to THIS.
I’ve already read the book Goodnight Cavaliers to Mandela like 100 times, reveling at the thought of him growing up and perhaps also graduating from UVA.
I think about teaching 12th graders at Charlottesville High School. What an important window into the lives of the broader community.
It just feels so personal!
I feel all the feels.
At first, sad. And then angry.
“That’s NOT my University. NOT my America.”
I see all those white men’s faces, carrying torches and I think all kinds of mean thoughts. I call them names in my head. I feel frustrated that it’s not the first time this week that I’ve thought about white male privilege.
Just a few days ago I was working in a coffee shop and overheard two white guys that appeared to have high powered jobs, having an unproductive ‘work’ discussion and thought to myself, “how irritating. just two more mediocre white guys making it to the top.”
And then I had a flashback to my senior year of high school when I complained to my dad that this rich boy in my class had been accepted to a bunch of universities that I thought he didn’t deserve to be accepted to.
And my dad said, “Well. I bet there’s plenty of people who think YOU don’t deserve to have been accepted to UVA.”
My whole life I’ve been trained to understand my privilege.
And I think I’m a better person for it.
It helps me to talk myself out of bitter name calling. Helps me not toxically fixate on the opportunities awarded to others that I assume are undeserved. It helps me to acknowledge that unfairness exists in this world and sometimes we’re the culprit and sometimes we’re the victim and the sun still rises in the morning.
And so when I think about all those white guys lighting up my lawn with their torches of resentment…
My greatest highfalutin hope is that they can find ways to quell their anger.
To understand that the world is not, in fact, systematically rooting against them.
And in the mean time-
get the %*@$ off my lawn.