It’s going to happen, I see, every year. The back-to-school social, the fall open house, the first school-wide choir performance. We will see Them out of the corner of our eyes. New faces…new families. New Black faces and families. We will experience a rush of inner thrill. We will try to determine from the child’s hair style or clothes what grade she is in. We may determine that there is a chance that he will—out of all the classrooms—be in one of our children’s class.
Our child may not be The Only One this year.
We lock eyes with a mother, with a father. Definitely with a grandmother. The grandmother, in particular, seems relieved and overjoyed to see us there. Guess you were right, Junior, there are some Black folk up in this lillywhite suburb…. We lock eyes. We share a mutual smile. (Once, we actually hugged, even though we had never seen each other in our lives.) There is still that Other family, the family from previous years, whose mother never meets our eyes, whose father never answers our hellos. But even they and their nasty attitude is easier to take as we take note of these new Black faces.
It is a steady annual trickle in which we do not make the only appearance. One additional family from Korea this year…a surname on one class roster that ends in -ez that we are hopeful about even though we did not meet the parents or child at the open house…three additional families from the Middle East…the sound of accents and languages spoken other than English…
Each new black and brown and beige and cream colored face fills us with joy and hope.
If we were paying more attention, we’d see that we are not the only ones noticing the new faces. They are noticing, too, and some do not seem quite so thrilled. We’d see a few of them are doing some internal calculations, more complicated than rocket science. How many is good for a little added flavor and how many will be too spicy? Where will be the tipping point that will make private school or putting a house on the market come up on the good side of the loss-gain column?
But we do not notice them. We are too happy about the rainbow.
It is going to be a great school year.