Wednesday, July 28, 2010

School Integration



I don't know if it was the blueberry pie or the discovery of the new muse (see last week's post) or the discovery of two new writing strategies, but in the past week, I have gotten deeply involved with the writing of my new novel, and I want to remain that way. So, I'll admit, when Wednesday morning rolled around, I was not sure how I felt about my commitment to this blog. It's not that I care less about the discomforts of diversity than when I began 69 posts ago (that's a lot of posts, by the way). And it's not that I had nothing to say. I actually had multiple ideas for what to write about (one thing about the discomforts of diversity: they never dry up). It's that I was thinking perhaps it was time to move on--to maintain my focus on the new novel, to dig in deeply to this new world I'm creating and avoid/resist distractions. 
     But I'm not the type to just disappear, or to abandon a commitment easily, so as I went for my walk today, I was mentally composing a farewell-for-now post. I had all kinds of things to say about the world of blogging and the world of novel writing and so on. But this morning, also on my mind were a couple conversations I'd been following on the Detroit Yes forum.
     I've mentioned this place before as a very active site that has been supportive of my novel. One of this morning's conversations was "Where were you during the 1967 riots?" which evolved into a conversation about what has happened to Detroit and why it hasn't recovered while so many other cities have. The other conversation was "What direction is Detroit heading?" with multiple views, including up, down, and sideways. I piped up on that one with a paragraph from the last page of my novel, from the perspective of Harry Levine, the main character, who comes to a realization that everything is always in a state of rebuilding and destroying, that it's a matter of proportion, and what you see depends on where you happen to be looking. Also, on this forum, someone had posted a link to an article saying that the Detroit Public Schools had come in last in the country on reading and math scores. Horrible to think about.
     Anyway, the conversation in all these threads eventually worked its way around to the troubled school system, and I participated in that, noting that even rumors about trouble in the schools (danger to one's children, or the possibility of lower standards) is enough to get people thinking about moving. It was certainly one of the factors in the white flight to the suburbs that took place in the 60s. At bottom, of course, it is related to racial fear. One of the other people on the forum responded (this was only part of her very-well-written response), "Seriously, what do people think that we're going to do to them? Do folks think that their K-12 education or their university degree is devalued just by the very presence of black folks?"
     I felt so embarrassed. I don't know who the white women are in that famous photo above (from Little Rock). Not sure whether their names are known at all. They may see things in a whole new light by now (we can hope). But I am certainly glad not to be any of them.  And I wouldn't want the woman on the Detroit Yes forum to think of me as anywhere in that ballpark. Not saying she did. Just saying . . .

4 comments:

rasirds@cox.net said...

Discrimination will never die as long as there are two people on the earth from different backgrounds. All we can do is to live our lives with dignity and hope beyond hope.

You aren't abandoning the cause if you decide to move on.

Think instead of what you have accomplished!

Susan Messer said...

Bless, you. Just so you know, you were one of the people I was thinking about when I was debating whether to continue the blog. Having an attentive (and faithful) reader makes all the difference. Thank you.

Jim Poznak said...

Fear of muslims is the new racism. Our temporary loss of your blog is your muse's gain.

Susan Messer said...

Oh, I agree about the Muslims, but the "old racism," sadly never went away or got "solved." I guess that's why it just continues to morph. Thanks for the comment about the muse, luv.