Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Black History Report

I have a baby brother. He's still in grade school and they've been studying history-making black Americans for the last 28 days. Tomorrow, the month will be over and he'll present his project on Ella Fitzgerald to his class.

This made me think about my own 3rd grade Black History Month project. I wanted to do my project on Guinan from Star Trek: TNG. I loved Guinan. Her character inspired me. She helped me get through the day.  Unfortunately, Guinan is totally fictional. The good news is that Whoopi Goldberg is just about equally awesome so I went with her.

I pitched the project to my teacher and she said, "No. Pick someone else." I'm not sure what her motivations were. These were the days before any kind of actual, everyone-has-it-in-their-house internet. Maybe my teacher thought I wouldn't be able to find enough information on her. Maybe she wanted me to be able to check books out of the school library. Maybe she wasn't a fan of the movie Ghost for which Goldberg had recently won an Academy Award. Maybe she just didn't like the actress' name. I can only speculate.

What I do know is that, even though I did a project and presented it to the class, I have no memory of who it was about. I sort of think that maybe it ended up being about Harriet Tubman or George Washington Carver or someone equally as amazing (and equally as well-studied) but I really wish I'd been allowed to study Whoopi Goldberg.

Maybe then I would've found out how she came out of the projects in New York to chase her dream of becoming an actress. Maybe I would've found out that one of the people who inspired her to pursue acting was another trail-blazing black actress--Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura on Star Trek: TOS. Maybe I would've found out that she, right after winning the academy award, went to Gene Roddenberry and asked to be on the show because of how much it had inspired her as a kid. Maybe I would've found out then that so many of us are bound together, across the world, whether we know it or not, by the stuff we love, the stuff that inspires us, the stuff that helps us get through the day.

And isn't that the point of diversity-themed education--to teach us that we're all bound together as a species and we're all the same under our skin? That we're all stuck on this delicate little planet, spinning around a big ball of fire and maybe, someday, if we stop acting like idiots, we'll have a future kind of like the one in Star Trek?


  1. I love Guinan! I went to one of those How To Host A Murder parties once which was Star Trek themed and I was cast as Guinan. I had the most awesome hat ... I think I still have it somewhere.

    1. That sounds AMAZING! We did one of those when I was a kid but it sure wasn't Star Trek themed! What a great experience!

  2. It still amazes me that so many people who appear to hate children and/or learning become teachers. WHY?

  3. This was great. I love Whoopi. And I think what you said about education is spot on.


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