Over the course of her 13 years, Hope has missed an astounding amount of school. It shocks me sometimes how bright she must be to muddle through her courses and do very well in most subjects. Sometimes the academic gaps are revealed and they are huge and she internalizes her poor performance as being “dumb.” Really, she just missed entire units of material at a time.
And so it was when she arrived a year ago this week, shortly before the start of Black History Month, when she floored me by not knowing who Frederick Douglass was.
Lawd!!! Mess! Remember that time she revoked my Black Card? Yeah, I totally snatched hers!
So, I began, with lots of starts, fits setbacks and spring forwards, trying to teach Hope a respectable amount of Black history. I mean, really everyone should know this stuff, not just Black and brown folks, but I guess I feel an enhanced responsibility as the mom of a Black child to be sure she has the Black foundations. I’ll also admit that I feel even more
self-applied pressure because of the type of work I do.
So, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day, I dubbed this weekend, “Educatainment Weekend.”
We scooted on over to the movie theater on Friday to see Selma.
What a lovely movie. Don’t get your knickers in a bunch over all the hulabaloo about LBJ being mischaracterized as a foe of the Civil Rights movement. Rather, spend sometime watching and appreciating that there is truth in different vantage points of our history, depending on the roles played in that history. Selma was a good movie. It helps that David Oyelowo looks kind of like my boo, Elihu, and well, Common is walking around the set looking all fine too.
Selma was definitely a great way to kick off a learning weekend. Hope has asked to go to Selma to walk across the bridge. Yes, we will be doing that! I’ve done it and it’s a powerful exercise.
Saturday we peeped Spike Lee’s 4 Little Girls on Amazon Prime.
So, Selma starts off with the Birmingham, AL bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in which four young girls were killed. Well, as you can imagine that triggered a lot of questions about what happened in Birmingham, so as a way of avoiding being peppered with more questions than I could answer, we screened Spike’s documentary on the girls and the bombing.
Why did I think that would end the questions? #dumbmommoment
So many questions about justice for the girls despite Robert Chambliss’s conviction in 1977. So many questions about the Civil Rights movement. So many questions about have far have we come or haven’t. So many questions about everything.
And then Hope fell silent. The gravity of trying to understand racism, power, privilege and social messiness was exhausting. I know it was exhausting for me.
Sunday we were supposed to screen Malcolm X, but didn’t.
Malcom X is featured briefly in Selma, and that cameo did what? Yep, raised questions…so many questions. So, I decided we would watch Spike’s Malcolm X on Sunday afternoon. That is one long movie. I made sure we had snacks, and that my red solo cup was clean, but Hope took 8+ hours to do her laundry–seriously, I have NO EARTHLY idea WTH she was doing in there.
Yappy and I took a nap, and when we came to, it was dusk and I love me some Malcolm X, but that dang movie is too dang long to start at dusk. So we’ll have to catch Denzel some other time.
Monday we hit the US Holocaust Museum and the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial in DC.
So I want to mention here that I have a Jewish surname; actually both of my parents have Jewish surnames. It’s provided a very thin, but interesting layer to my identity as on numerous occasions folks have been shocked by me when I show up in person. On paper, for some reason, people often see the name and make assumptions about color, ethnicity, religion, you name it.
One time about 10 years ago, I had just finished giving a lecture and the first person who got the mic to ask me a question actually commented that he was shocked I was Black especially given my talent for data crunching. Sigh…It’s interesting to find yourself mistaken for another marginalized group with a history of being subjected to genocide.
There’s a part of my heart deeply affected by this. I haven’t bothered to mention that the surname I’ve passed on to Hope has this unique history for me. Jeesch we’re dealing with enough, amiright?
So, anyway Hope did a project on Anne Frank last fall and wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum. I have only been once since it opened because despite being a beautiful museum; it’s also heartbreaking and emotionally draining. Midway through I just wanted to find a bench and lay down with a blankie.#cryingandthumbsucking
It was especially difficult this time because I still see the rise of awful people in this world doing awful things to people just because they are different or because they just think they are different. I spent some time trying to get Hope to make some of these connections, pulling threads of the discourse we have over our dinner table and tying it to elements of Hitler’s rise. She didn’t get it, but one day she will, and it will scare her like it did me.
She didn’t get that I was emotionally tapped out about midway through and just turned on the teen attitude.
After the museum, we hiked about a mile through the Tidal Basin to the memorial. I love the MLK memorial and MLK Day is a great day to go. So many families there; so many people wanting to take pictures of famous quotes. So peaceful, so happy, so unified, so beautiful. After the emotional upheaval of the museum, I was getting my entire life at the Memorial.
In true teen fashion, Hope was unimpressed. After a couple of snaps, “How long are we staying here?”
We stopped and got street hot dogs and pretzels before heading back home.
Edutainment Weekend was a success. Oh, Hope also participated in a youth Town Hall Meeting on #BlackLivesMatter this weekend. She got great reviews! No, I didn’t attend–the event gave me like a rare 6 hours of free teencare on a Saturday; so I made sure that #mylifemattered over a much overdue brunch with a girlfriend. #sangrias #realtalk
Hope retains experiences like they are carved on tablets–um, the old school kind not this new, fandangled…nevermind. I know that she will remember each of these things and she will reference them. When she’s older she will make connections; she will pull the threads all the way through; she will remember our conversations; she will have many questions answered. She will have gaps filled.
Next month is Black History Month so I’ve got to get my little Edutainment plan together for the month. We’ve got a lot of good ground to cover. I haven’t even really got to the badass women of the movement!