My first teaching assignment was in a condemned building. . . I strove to address the ghetto problem of instilling pride without prejudice. (I was particularly happy when the editor of NEA Journal told me she especially liked this poem though they did not publish poetry in that journal.) It’s easy to imagine that this is an old resolved issue, but it is not! All our problems are not solved–or even defined. In classrooms of today I see the same needs to develop self-respect while also learning to respect others:
How can they find out? How can I quell the shout?
The cry that if they are good I must be bad
Since I am white and here that’s not the fad,
(or the other way round which still spurs a frown!)
How can I help make them proud to be black,
Yet not put anyone in the Prejudice Sack?
How can I show I am proud to be,
Yet they don’t have to act white to feel good about me. . . ?
Maybe it’ll start Black History Week
‘Cause then pride with understanding we’ll seek.
Pardon me if my feelings roll–
I’m hoping they’ll notice my heart has soul.
“I’m Black and I’m Proud” And we’ll find reasons why.
But the time is now Not someday in the sky.
I am white and they are black.
There’s no need for a bunch of flak.
Some way, some how, the storms we’ll weather,
And maybe someday we’ll be proud together.
Yes, please, color my heart soul.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.