I love my kid’s school.
I love the fact that the school has been standing there since 1940 (as have the folding chairs that are still used in the gym).
I love sitting in that gym for an assembly, and even though my kid is only in kindergarten, knowing at least half the faces there.
I love that those faces are every shade possible.
Today’s assembly was an African drumming concert. An extremely talented artist, originally from Senegal, spent the week with the kids, teaching every kid from K-6 how to drum. And he taught them about his country’s culture – the clothes, the food, and, for the older kids, a bit about politics.
As the principal introduced him, she talked about all the kids learned from him this week. It was a warm and fuzzy speech, and I wasn’t paying much attention, until a word jarred me back to attention – “tolerance”.
I hate that word. I involuntarily wince every time I hear it. It feels dated, and trite, and wrong.
For me, it implies that us white folk are somehow going to find it within ourselves to put up with anyone who’s not like us. And isn’t that just gracious of us? It implies that there’s something not as “right” about the ways of others, but we’re going to find a way, in our big, generous hearts, to let them live out their “quaint” ways.
People who cut us off in traffic, who let their cell phones ring in a theatre, who mix up “your” and “you’re”? We tolerate them.
People from another culture? We just live with them.
(The drummer used the word, too. Maybe I’m overreacting. I don’t know.)