My friends and I went to a coffee and tea tasting out in the suburbs today. It was a lovely, caffeine-filled event. Yet there was one moment that I can't get out of my mind. We were having a conversation with this lovely woman (she told us proudly that she was 65 years old with three grandchildren, the youngest being 13).
She mentioned that her daughter was the director of guidance counseling at a middle school (in a very wealthy suburban school district). Two of my friends who teach in Philadelphia said how lucky that school was to have guidance counselors at all, much less a director of guidance counseling. "You know, because of the School District of Philadelphia cuts..." my one friend said. The woman kind of gave her a blank look and kept rattling on about her daughter.
She then started bragging about that 13 year old grandson, and how well he was doing in school. "He's so smart," she said. "He asked me the other day, what was one difference between when I was growing up and today, and I said the diversity. I mean, he has an African-American friend, an Oriental friend, an Indian friend - you know, the ones with the red dots?"
I wanted to give her a stern lecture right then and there - letting her know first of all that her family's experience in the suburbs is completely different than the children in schools only 30 minutes away. I also wanted to ask her what she really meant by diversity - did she mean that there were a few kids in that school who weren't white? And - did she really not know that calling people Oriental is offensive? Red dots? Seriously?
In that moment, I took a deep breath, and kept my lecture to myself. I didn't know if saying anything would mean she would hear it. Part of me also kind of wanted her to keep her ignorance just a bit longer. She was so happy.