As you’re describing your New Orleans Public School system experience in the Upper Ninth Ward, you talk about “some of those Mamas and fathers….” beginning just on the other side of 16:15.
You might want to re-visit that phrasing. Here’s why:
I had a similar experience this past July at my mother’s 70th birthday party. Ma designed it as a Detroit reunion weekend for her children, grandchildren and old family friends. “The Family”, as she calls it. One guest was Ma’s former classmate from their undergraduate days at Wayne State, a Polish Catholic whose sister was a nun at old Immaculata High.
To make a long story short, I hadn’t seen this woman in 40 years. When my sisters reminded me who she was, I greeted the woman and we started talking about some very fond memories from my childhood where Ma would take us up North to visit the woman’s family in Alpena. Everything was cool until the woman said, casually, during a line in one of her stories “…and yo’ MAMA….” (Those three words when off in my head as if somebody scratched one of my Earth, Wind and Fire albums.) I stopped her right damn there and said, “You mean my MOTHER?” I suspect she realized that, even though she may not have intended it to be a slight, it was a mistake. She quickly corrected herself, “Yes. I mean your Mother.”
See, some folks don’t play that. I’m one of them. I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t cuss her the hell out. I simply used the product of my active listening — and leaned in.
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