Racial Hype: Should There Be Such a Focus on Race?

I really don’t understand all of the hype about the two coaches going to the Super Bowl this year being black. I never would have known it was a first if it wasn’t all over the news. My thought is this: who cares what color they are! They must be doing something right to have ended up at the Super Bowl. It has nothing to do with color. It has everything to do with skill and talent.

I can’t even tell you the coaches names. Not because they are black, but because they are coaches! I can’t tell you any coach’s name and I know very few players’ names. Maybe I’m not the biggest sports fan, but I think that it should be about skill – not skin color.

I’m sure that these coaches are extremely proud to be a first. But I’m sure there are other firsts out there for everyone; no matter what your color is.

I’m experiencing a first myself this year. This is my first year to be teaching in a mostly black school. For the past seven years, I’ve taught at a white and Mexican school. This year I was hired at an inner-city school. There has been a lot of changes for me. The black culture is very different from white or Mexican. But it all comes down to the children needing the same love and attention.

So where’s my media coverage? I’m a white female teaching in a black school. Does that make me special or different? It’s a first for me, so shouldn’t it be a big deal? That’s what I thought you’d think. So what? Right?

It’s been an adjustment for me, but I’m also learning a lot. I get to work with black people that are very honest about the whole racial issue. One lady has been very good with me. She will talk with me about how to deal with the students and the parents. She told me to not let the parents play the “racial card”. She even admitted to doing it herself. She also couldn’t explain why she had.

As we’ve talked and gotten to know each other and learn about each others’ past, we realize how alike we are. She is closer to my mother’s age, but I hear so many similarities in how they were raised. Both pretty much had to raise younger siblings, both were poor, both had strict parents, and both turned out to be great ladies. So why so many differences? I think society makes it that way. I think that the media gets us to believe it’s all about color. There are the people that just fuel the racial fire. Just like people that fuel religious fires. There’s always the select few that runs the show. Stereotyping and labeling to keep people in an uproar.

One day, I was upset with my principal with the way she was handling discipline with one of my students. He comes from a home where he is allowed to do anything and have anything he wants. His mother doesn’t give him a lot of attention, though. The only father figure in his life is his uncle. This boy is very smart. Not just academically, but street wise as well. I’ve been trying to get him to behave in class and focus on his school work, but I was at my wit’s end with him. I finally sent him to the office. The principal calls in his uncle for a conference. We talked things out with the student and uncle. But after they left, the principal kept me in her office. She told me that I had to understand the black poverty level better, that he has enough hardships to deal with. She gave me a book to read and tapes to listen to about teaching to poverty level children. She wants to take it easy on him because of his social status.

I went back to my room and my friend came in. I told her what all had gone on. Her reaction surprised me. She was very upset that the principal would stereotype the children as “poverty” and that she would allow poor behavior because of it. My friend said that just because a person is poor and black is no excuse for bad behavior. Now this makes sense to me!

Everyone seems to want excuses for their behavior. But the honest truth is; there are no excuses! People behave badly because they are allowed to, whether they are children or adults. People take advantage of skin color and social status to make up excuses for them. My principal was choosing to make up excuses for my student based on these two things. And it works for all races, not just black. People seem to want to stir up the racial issue. Making more of it than it should be.

When we were meeting with the student and his uncle, they didn’t make up excuses for his bad behavior. The uncle clearly wants his nephew to behave because he wants what is best for him. He didn’t sit there and say, well, he has no father and his mother doesn’t work and so on. He sat there, clearly upset with is nephew, wanting only for this child to excel in school. No excuses.

So my thought is this: race is only an issue because we let others tell us it is. We allow the media to create this image for us. We shouldn’t do that. Yes, I was worried about race when I started at this school. But I was soon put at ease as I got to know the children and the people I work with. I don’t look at someone and think about their skin color. I see inside them to their souls. I see beautiful people. People that want the best education for their children. People that don’t want the stereotype “black poverty”. People that deserve recognition not because of skin solor but because of what they do to touch other people.

Now, should there be such hype about these two Super Bowl coaches? Well, yes, but not because of skin color, but because of the great men that they are. The players say that neither coach yells at them. You can also tell that the players have a lot of respect for their coaches. I think that says a lot more about the type of men that they are than their skin color does.