By Jessica Keith
To whom is not concerned:
Sorry, our pod is full. Technically, it’s because there’s no space for your judgment.
You see me as a white mom, so you think I get you when you stand on your soapbox to tell me about pods “creating inequity.” Herein lies the problem—my children aren’t seen. They are Black.
“Aren’t you concerned you’re just creating a bigger divide?” you asked rhetorically. If you had wanted to hear an opinion other than your own, I would have answered the complexity of your loaded statement saying, “nope.” We are giving our children more than what they deserve to make up for the inequities in an educational system, that leaves too many Black children behind.
“What did the school say?” you asked, shortsightedly. I didn’t need to seek their opinion. Their time is already spent dealing with parents who need immediate responses to questions that no one has the answers to.
“Will the children be wearing masks?” you asked, without actual concern for the health and safety of our children. No, they won’t be wearing masks, in our own backyard. I want their faces to be seen. They are cute to you now, but at some point their looks will become a threat to you and society.
“Not everyone can afford the luxury of a pod,” you said. You’re right, but not everyone has to pay to be in our pod.
“Which family isn’t paying?” you asked. I wasn’t surprised that someone so concerned with being even-handed thought I would disclose that. My pod shields its community.
“Must be nice,” you said, imposing your ideas of privilege onto mine. You didn’t take the time to care to know that I am now working extra hours to fund what should be a public school education.
“Who is in your pod?” you asked, interested in the who’s-who of a clique. I’ve teamed up with another Black mother who said, “I wish someone had given me this education.”
“Don’t you think that’s unfair? Your children will get ahead,” you noted. The look on your face showed your misunderstanding—the reach of our goal. Our pod is an opportunity for our children to stay on par within a system that doesn’t wait for Black children to catch up.
“Isn’t that annoying for their classroom teacher?” Our pod allows teachers to focus on the needs of the other children. In lieu of opting out of online learning this year, we kept our children enrolled, in order for the funding to stay in the system that needs to narrow its focus on the diverse needs of children.
“Aren’t you worried you’re going to be too loud for your neighbors?” you asked. The voices of girls will be raised in my pod. This will not be a classroom that celebrates girls for being quiet while the boys shout out the answers. My children will be heard. Their voices will be acknowledged in our learning circle, in hopes that when they do return to their public school education, they will remember that their family created a space that hears them, sees them, and lifts them up.
As if my mental health wasn’t suffering enough, your judgment ignites shame while fanning a fire to promote isolated suffering within the home. Meanwhile, after being cooped up for the last five months, I’ve created a community where my children can feel supported and encourage other children. So before you think of judging me and my pod, remember way back to eight weeks ago, when you changed your profile on Facebook to say, “black lives matter.”
This post was originally published on BLUNTMoms.
About the Author
Jessica Keith is a professional lecturer at San Diego State University. When she’s not busy saying, “don’t make me repeat myself,” to her children (ages 2, 6, and 8), she is getting paid to discuss the diverse implications of repeating oneself, teaching Cross Cultural Communication. Currently, her favorite pastimes are sitting in a room by herself, and guessing what day of the week it is.