Today I (pretty much) got called a racist

And I was shaking angry about it.

I teach in a school that is very…vanilla.  In fact, for my final paper in my principal program, I renamed it Vanilla Valley High School.  It’s also smack dab in the middle of engineer-land, so it’s full of students who are very affluent.  This is a blessing, but can also be a burden (see: overindulged children of entitled parents), which was the case today.

We had interviews for incoming freshman student council students last night.  It is a SUPER competitive process and my executive board kids take it very seriously.  They spent three hours interviewing and almost two more hours discussing and choosing who they thought would be the best fit for council.  They made what I feel are outstanding choices. 

Today, I got a call from a mom of one of the students who did not make it.  She left a voice mail in which she said, among other things, “my daughter is fine about the decision, but I have questions about the diversity of your group.”  Uh…first of all, why are you calling if your KID IS FINE???  (see above, re: entitled parents)

I hesitantly called her back, shaking inside and out at where I knew she was headed.  Turns out, she was headed there.  She informed me that she “heard” that all the kids who got chosen are rich and white.  That the only kids who got chosen were “related to people on council or the brother of someone’s boyfriend.”  That the kids at my school are “snotty white girls” and she has serious concerns about our process – a process that has served us well for eight years.

I decided quickly that I needed to practice my diplomatic administrator skillzzz (you know, in case I ever get a job).  So I took a deep breath and informed her that yes, our school demographic is very white and very affluent, but our council actually has a multitude of diverse ethnic students.  I explained to her that we never have and never will consider race as a factor when selecting students.  I calmly informed her that I was present during the discussion after the interviews and that as a professional, I was very proud of my kids’ decision.  I apologized for her getting the impression that we operate that way. 

She backed down pretty quickly and admitted that she didn’t really believe we would do that, but…you know…as the white mother of an adopted Chinese child, she’s pretty sensitive about those things.  Yes, I imagine she is.  And I understand the mama bear response, I really do. 

But I don’t appreciate this incident and the insinuation (once again) that somehow teachers just aren’t professional enough to make sure blatant or subtle racism doesn’t happen.  That somehow I encourage the lack of diversity in our school.  That I can’t possibly understand being the minority in a situation.  I wanted soooo badly to tell her about my Hispanic daughter.  About my 10 years as the minority in New Mexico.  About how I teach my students entire UNITS about encouraging diversity and the acceptance of people for people’s sake.   And I wanted more than anything to scream at her, “WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME?  AND WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME A RACIST?!?!?” 

But I didn’t.  Because really, she just wanted to be heard.  She just wanted to complain.  And I just wanted to hang up.  So I smiled and played nice.  And you know what?  I’m proud of that.  I’m proud of the work I do.  I’m proud of my students.  I’m proud to do my part to help create a world where people can be loved and appreciated simply for who they are.

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