28 Apr

my heart wasn’t in it

Today, with my kids, we discussed the meaning of the phrase “heart wasn’t in it”.  We talked about how “heart” is often a euphemism for love.  It got me to thinking…

I’ve neglected this blog on and off for the past several years, because my heart hasn’t always been in it.  And I’m trying to revamp this blog so that it is a reflection of my heart.  I’ve been talking about things not strictly food related because more often than not, food is not my heart’s desire.

Today, my heart dwelled on a couple of things.  One I’ll put on hold until I fully wrap my head around it.  The other is about poverty and resilience and a whole lot of other things I only partially understand.

1) Kids raised in poverty experience all sorts of trauma (aside from stated poverty) that those of us raised in relative wealth can’t possibly imagine.  Today was the anniversary of the death of a student who attended my school.  He was a classmate and friend to many of my students, and his death has taken a marked toll on my kids.  One student recently had his entire house burned down.  Another, has parents who are splitting up.  And while any of these things might occur to children in any class, they happen at much higher rates to families in poverty.  And all of that trauma makes dealing with life a whole lot more difficult, strains emotions, and makes good choices all the more difficult to make.  Add to that the constant feeling that the police are against you (which is more true than many of us white middle classers can even begin to comprehend), and you get a recipe for something like what happened in Baltimore yesterday.  And while I certainly would never say it’s ok to use violence, I think the situation is more complicated than “you need to not be a @$!%.”

2) Race relationships are complicated and cannot be boiled down a single court case or isolated police altercation.  Additionally, those of us belonging to historically more advantaged races (i.e., white) have an especially difficult time comprehending just how complicated it is.  I’ve only ever worked in a school where I’m the minority race, and every day I learn about some other advantage that I have taken for granted my entire life.  For one, that whole police thing I mentioned before.  I was raised to believe the police were there to help.  And while from time to time, I might have believed they were a little over-zealous in their traffic ticketing, I never once feared them.  I never once felt like they were constantly on the lookout for any possible way to destroy my entire life.  Unfortunately, I know countless African American and Hispanic American children who do not lead such a privileged life.

I’m not sure what any of this means in real life.  Probably just that it’s very important to keep all of this in mind before we criticize others for failing under a pressure that we’ve never experienced, even if that means excusing a behavior that seems otherwise deplorable.  I hate what happened in Baltimore yesterday.  But I hate what caused it even more.  To quote a lesson we learned in our foster parenting class, “Behavior expresses a need.”

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