This March writing challenge is organized by Two Writing Teachers
My day slipped away from me, and I'll have to crank out another quick one to get this submitted on time.
We started early for a Saturday, as I drove my 4th grader through the pouring rain to her first 5K. Her technology teacher and a high school volunteer had put together a girls' running club, and this was their culminating event. It had a St. Patrick's Day theme, so there was a sea of green, and the girls ran with green tulle tutus over their running clothes. Their "training" consisted of four after school sessions in the last month, two of which my daughter missed (sprained her ankle, then got an eye infection), so she had to rely on will power and youthful energy rather than actually being in shape.
The thing that struck me as I looked at the ten girls is that when I did after school clubs, all the kids looked the same. There was one black boy in my school, a couple of kids with Hispanic last names, and two Asian families. In fourth grade two Vietnamese immigrant families joined the mix. That was it. The rest of us were as white as white can be.
My daughter's group, however, had only four white girls (and one is an immigrant, for what it's worth). One girl ran in an hijab. There was an also Indian girl, two Asian girls, a black girl, and two Latinas. They all hugged and squealed and jumped up and down together. They ran together, they took selfies together, they posed arms around each other for team pictures. Nobody mocked the one who walked most of the course. Nobody seethed at the ones who came in earliest. Each girl took pride in her own achievement and supported her team members' efforts as well.
We do not live in a post-racist society. Each of these girls will face limiting expectations based on their race, their weight, their religion, their attractiveness, their language, and their gender. But seeing them gives me hope all the same. As long as they keep building each other up, they will be okay, even with all the crap the world will throw at them.