Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Let the names begin
This is a young poet from Queens named "Skim."
Her poetry is powerful. His honesty is painful.
The work of dismantling systems of prejudice and oppression can be crazy-making. It takes persistence and tenacity that can leave the mind numb, the soul depleted and the body exhausted.
I had a conversation recently with a Chatham mom (who, just in case you were wondering, drives a mini-van ;~). Her middle school age daughter has two best friends in her 'posse' - another girl and a young man who, since the age of 10, knew himself to be 'gay.' The three have been BIG buds since elementary school and they absolutely adore each other.
Recently, some insensitive remarks about 'homosexual couples' made by a teacher in the classroom were very upsetting to her daughter. She confronted the teacher (bless her heart), without much effect. She came home and told her mother, who, after applauding her daughter's courage, called me to ask what she could do to help support her daughter.
I gave her the name of a member of our congregation who is on the school board - oh, yes, who also happens to be a lesbian - who put her in touch with the superintendent of schools.
Long story short - they had a great conversation and the superintendent, she reported, said "all the right things." She was feeling really great.
Until the next day, when the mother of the other girl in her daughter's posse said to her, "I'm so over all these gay people being 'in your face' about their sexuality."
My friend's 'contact high' from the few whiffs of justice she had gotten from the school superintendent the day before quickly evaporated.
"Welcome to my world," I said.
Justice takes vigilance and patience and persistence. Ignorance and Fear are ancient, skillful bandits. A small victory today can be robbed tomorrow. The Dance of Justice can sometimes be two steps forward, sidestep, sidestep, three steps back.
To wit: Proposition 8 in California.
The poetry of Skim from Queens reminds us of the interconnection of all prejudice, as well as the aching reality of its persistence.