Today was Thursday and today we visited three different schools. We were going to see the events that the students were putting on for the exhibition tomorrow. The plan was to visit five schools, spend 30 minutes at each one, drive 20 minutes in between, and finish at 2:00.
You’ll be shocked to discover that we ran atrociously behind; I don’t think we even got to the first school until 12:00. Setting up plus the first presentation took well over an hour and I think it killed everyone off. That bus is my enemy; it is a malign prison that traps us in a mausoleum of heat. In other (less melodramatic) words, it was super hot on the bus and we had to wait for a long time.
The presentations at the schools were very good, but I find it difficult to listen to young children talk lightly about such horrible issues. They don’t deserve it, they shouldn’t even know about some of the things they’re discussing. It just makes me even more determined to pay attention to the work I’m doing while I am here and really listening to what the community members have to say.
As good as all the presentation were, Peter told the driver and those organizing the day that we were done after 3 schools. We didn’t have food or water all day, the disorganization was reaching a new high, we just needed to go back to the hotel.
The worst part by far was the little girls who crawled through the barbed wire to shake our hands, touch our arms, stroke our backs, and praise us for how beautiful we are, and the minute we say that they’re beautiful, they said, “No we’re not, we’re black.” They also refused to shake hands with Flo or any of the Rongo students and their reasoning was because they were black.
We cried together about it. It was a blatant causation of centuries of messaging that whiteness is superior, but to see it so undisguised, so overt, shocked me and broke my heart. It still does, writing this now. I think that memory always will.
The pain and uncomfortably is something that is special in of itself. I need to choke down that discomfort like a medication that is vital to my health because I believe it is integral to experience these darker elements of life in order to be better equipped to combat them in the future. It was centuries in the making for those girls to fully believe the words they were saying, and it is going to take years to undo these effects of colonization that has infected these people. I just want to make sure I am a part of that change.
I feel grateful that we went, though. I want to connect with people as much as possible before I leave.