Friday, September 11, 2009
a little more
When we first moved to Brooklyn we lived at the edge of a neighborhood that was predominantly African American. And. I have to say, that was hard for me. It was a safe, beautiful neighborhood. It had trees and playgrounds and kids. But I felt really white. Walking around I worried that my neighbors were wondering what I was doing there.
I took the bus to work everyday and I was often the only white face. I knew that I could just as easily take the subway and not feel like I stood out so much. But I liked the bus. I liked being above ground. I liked seeing the world go by on my way to work. And so, stubbornly, I got on the bus every morning. Some days I worried that someone would ask me to stop taking the bus. But no one did.
I took the bus to my job. Teaching. At a charter school. And most of my students were either African American or West Indie. My first year in Brooklyn was also the first year my school was in session. And when the parents found out how many teachers were white, they were not pleased. They wanted African American role models for their children. And there I was. With my white face. I remember feeling apologetic and desperately wanting to win them over.
At some point, in my first year, I forgot to check to the bus for white faces. I forgot to worry about standing out. I forgot my students weren't white and they forgot I was. One day one of my students came up to face staring at me and said, "Mrs. Rice! You're eyes are blue! Can you see out of them?" When Andrew was born and I took him into school to meet my students they could not get over that he was white.
It's been fascinating and good for me to take a better look at race and a better look at color. I've learned a lot about myself and I haven't always liked what I learned.
Anyway, this is coming up now because I made the 41 bus for my quilt. Turns out, it's an important little piece.
And then not as important, but still pretty fun: the ice cream truck!
This is our bagel place and a faux subway stop that is suppose to represent our trains and neighborhoods. The little buttons are suppose to look something like this.
And it wouldn't be a Brooklyn quilt without a row of brownstones.