Today, I feverishly read Jessica Lander's Making Americans because I'm interviewing her on my podcast, Chalk + Ink, tomorrow. With parent teacher conferences and my slide deck for VSLA due yesterday, I had quite a bit of reading to catch up on.
The truth is I love the book and I could focus on any number of quotes. But there's one from Lyndon B. Johnson that brought me back to mid-December helping our former biracial, bilingual six-year-old foster daughter get ready for school. She looked in the mirror and called herself poopy.
"No," I told her. "You're beautiful, smart, kind, and intelligent."
"Really?" she asked.
"Really." I said. I hope I hugged her and kissed the top of her head, but I don't know if I did or not. I may have head to turn around to hide my tears.
So what does this have to do with Lyndon B. Johnson? Well, Landers explains that in 1928, long before he was President, LBJ taught for a year at a segregated Mexican school in Cotulla, Texas (Landers Making Americans 163). Later on in 1965, a month before he signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into law, LBJ said, "Somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child."
When I read that quote, it was December again, and I was watching a beautiful young girl hate her image because of the color of her skin. My husband later remarked to me, "Anyone who doesn't think skin color matters should foster a child of color."