pourque esta usted enojado?

today, during mrs. hansen's class, i felt a lot like ron burgundy eating the cat turds in anchorman. she had asked me to cut up some index cards and files to make flashcards for her kids. not just the kids she works with - but all of her students. i didn't protest; i didn't ask to do anything else; i just did it. because that's what i do. and i've always done it. and i'll always do it. so after i cut up all the index cards and files, i used an electronic whole punching machine to poke holes in each card. it took up the whole period. i didn't mind. anything mindless and time-consuming i'll do because i don't care anymore. i'll just eat the cat shit.

i also get the impression that she doesn't think i'm educated. i think pretty much all teachers feel that way about me. like mr. cramer saying, "you know, from the back, it looks like it's really easy, to just say, 'oh, i would've done this, or i would've done that,' but it's hard work. especially when you have little punks like edgar and angel stirring everything up..." and then there's ms. carissa, who doesn't really ask me about how anything is done - just goes ahead and takes the class like she's been there for years. it makes me think about my roommate, who said at a meeting once that there was a time in his life when he felt useful, appreciated. and how he had to go back and read old papers of his to make sure that this period actually existed. yes, americorps makes for some hard times.

every now and then, something shines. like my encounter with stephen yesterday. using venn diagrams, the eld kids had to compare and contrast themselves with benito juarez, the mexican president during the mexican revolution. when i first saw stephen's book, i saw that he had written mexican in the "same" category. then i realized he wasn't writing about himself, but his friend, ivan.

"stephen! you're not mexican! you're chinese!"
"oh, no. not me. my friend. ivan."
"no, you have to write about yourself." i point to the directions. "benito juarez and me."
"oh, but my friend ivan. i write."
"no, stephen. you have to follow the directions."
"awright," he says, scratching out my friend ivan.
at this point i turn to dulce, who has written nothing. i help her find some examples. when i turn back to stephen, i see that he's written "brown" for benito and "yellow" for himself.
"stephen! you're not yellow! this is yellow," i say, pointing to a post-it note ms. carissa is using as a bookmark for her copy of viva mexico!
"wha? i am yellow. you, yellow too."
"no, stephen, i'm not yellow and you're not yellow, either. this is yellow," i point again to the post-it.
"but in china," he says, "everybody yellow."
"in this country, stephen, to call an asian person yellow is racist."
"ray-zis?"
"racist," i repeat. i type the word into his electronic dictionary.
"o-ho! bad. this, bad." he looks confused now. "americans are ray-zis?"
i want to just say yes, or silently nod, but it's too early in the day for that. i try to explain more. "no. no. americans aren't racist - but people who call people like you and me 'yellow' would be racist." by the look on his face, it's still unclear. "i'll explain later," i said.
he shakes his head, smiling, as he always does, and simply scratches out yellow. i can't help but think, if he was happy being yellow, maybe i shouldn't have interfered.

1 comment:

ms.meggie said...

do you mean "enojado?"