Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Four stories

1. A church adopts a school

A few years ago, a friend of mine told me this story. He belongs to a church that decided to help an East Oakland elementary school. One of the first things they did was to give the teachers a luncheon. One teacher was near tears as she expressed her gratitude, “I’ve been here for 20 years and no one has ever done anything for us.”

2. At the movies

In 2003 I went to the Great Mall in Milpitas with my daughter and her boyfriend. I didn’t feel like shopping, so I ended up going to a movie at the Cineplex. It was a Ron Howard film called “The Missing.”

Sitting right next to me in the theater was a little girl about four-years-old. On the other side of her was an older woman. I figured this was the grandmother. On the other side of the grandmother was a little boy who was about five, probably the brother. Sitting on the row in front of them, but with them, was a young woman who looked like she was about nineteen or twenty-years-old. Was she the mother? Was she an aunt, or an older sister?

This movie was incredibly violent and not particularly pleasant to sit through. It was R-rated. It included scenes of a naked body shot with arrows, a trussed up dead body suspended over a smoldering campfire, a body with a slit throat, a distraught woman holding a dead child who then shoots herself in the head, men being attacked with hatchets, knives, clubs and shotguns, blood flowing out of the eyes of a man, blood flowing out of the head of a man, etc.

As the movie was playing, I spent some time looking over at the children’s faces. They were fixated at the images on the screen for the entire time. Their eyes were huge and the expression on their faces was blank. I ended up peeking at them nearly as much as I watched the movie.

Witnessing these kids watch this movie was incredibly upsetting to me. Everything about it was wrong. As I sat there I tried to formulate different things I would say to them when it was over, if I had the courage to actually confront them.

My favorite option was to ask the little girl if she liked the movie and what was her favorite part? Did she like the part with the blood leaking out of a crushed skull, or when the hatchet chopped into the man’s chest. Knowing that it would be pointless to say anything at all, I ended up holding my tongue.

Violent R-rated movies at four-years-old? Maybe the kids will be ready for snuff films when they are seven or eight.

What’s wrong with an adult who would do that to a child? What’s wrong with an industry that permits an adult to do that to a child?

3. At the restaurant

My husband, our six-year-old daughter and I were having lunch with a group of black professionals at a restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf. I was the only white person. Another child was there, Billy (not his real name), the six-year-old son of an attorney in my husband’s office. At one point while we were waiting for our food to arrive, I took the two kids over to a bubbling and glowing aquarium to look at the pretty fish.

As we were watching the fish Billy spontaneously said, “I hate white people.” It shocked me to hear such a little boy say that, especially this little boy. I stayed quiet and just took it in.

The boy's parent is now a Superior Court judge.

4. Young ladies

One day I was at my daughter’s high school (Skyline) for some reason or the other. As I left the main office, a female student standing in the hallway cleared a huge glob of mucus from her throat and and expectorated it onto the linoleum floor. I couldn’t keep myself from saying to her, “That’s disgusting. Why did you do that?”

She glared back and straight-faced stared me down, never saying a word.

Another time, my husband was waiting to speak with a guidance counselor. A female student came up and ripped a flyer off a bulletin board right next to him. “You shouldn’t do that,” he said. To which she snottily and aggressively replied, “And you’re not going to do anything about it, are you?”

The 16 or 17-year-old darlings.

1 comment:

caroline said...

I have a white male friend about 70 whose daughter is married to an African-American man. Their kids' school had a Grandparents' Day, and the adorable youngest kid introduced my friend to his class: "This is my grandfather. He's an old white man." (But he meant it in a good way.)