My older was always a brilliant student and excelled in every subject. She worked hard and had the discipline and study skills necessary to be an exemplary student. She graduated valedictorian from her middle school and got into a prestigious New York City high school, Townsend Harris, known for it’s vigorous humanities program. My daughter was a conscientious, responsible student and always did what she was told. From the first day she set foot in a classroom, teachers loved her and always had good things to say about her. Her high school wasn’t so easy. They made college look like a cake walk. It was extremely challenging, even for her. But she always worked hard and did her best.
One day she came home pretty upset. She was in an English class studying American literature. The teacher assigned them to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. My daughter read the assigned chapters at home. One day, she went to class and the teacher decided to go around the room and let students read passages from the book out loud. When it was my daughter’s turn, she had begun reading, but stopped abruptly when she saw the “N” word. She would not say it out loud, even though the teacher had given them all permission to say it for this reading exercise. She told the teacher she wouldn’t say it. She skipped over the word and finished her passage.
However, when she came home that day I could see something was wrong. She explained to me what had happened in class. She looked at me and said, “I don’t know what happened, but I just couldn’t say it, Mom.” I knew she was conflicted because she always followed the teacher’s instructions, and yet this time her sensibilities were offended and she did what she felt was right for her. In a split second she took a stand and made a conscious decision to follow her instincts and be true to herself. She didn’t want to say the “N” word, she had never said the word before and she didn’t want to have the word cross her lips for a reading assignment. Many other students read their passages without editing out the “N” word. She had heard it read many times before the teacher had gotten to her turn. She told me she didn’t like hearing it and she wasn’t saying it out loud.
What could I say? I reassured her that she did the right thing and that I was proud of her for expressing how she felt and not doing something that went against her nature and her beliefs. She seemed more at ease about it after we talked. I knew my daughter and had she just gone along with the flow, like her other classmates, it would have bothered her even more. A lot more. She has never liked compromising her principles or her beliefs. She always stands firm in her convictions. That’s the kind of young lady she has grown up to be.
It’s moments like these, that I recall through my blogging, that make me very happy that I decided to start this blog. It started as a little experimental joke and it has turned out to be one of my accomplishments. I have preserved many memories from the past that were fading away due to the passage of time and I have gotten the opportunity to share them with others, who have enjoyed reading about them.