If you ever get a chance to blow an 8th grader’s mind, seize it.
I met with 3 incredibly impressive middle schoolers about their community projects this morning. Thoughtful, creative and justice minded, there was an LGBT+ club, musical performances for children battling cancer, and a workshop for 5th grade girls, to give them a rundown on what to expect from middle school, and how to cope.
The 8th grader in question, a tall young woman of color with an easy smile, offered to walk me out. As we made our way to the office, she told me about being named student of the month, and her dean’s list-worthy GPA. I smiled at her earnestness, nostalgically familiar with urge to offer the school resume speech. Graduating a semester early with Honors was something I forced into conversation deep into my thirties. And I just did again. Ego still in recovery, I guess.
We chatted pleasantly, and as we neared the office she mentioned her work with the Minority Group at school. I couldn’t resist.
“You know, I’ve been thinking differently about that word lately, ‘minority‘. A friend taught me a better description in a workshop this summer: global majority. What percentage of the world’s population is white, do you think?”
“Um. Maybe 70?”
Touching her arm lightly, I said, “18.” Her eyes widened and she audibly gasped. I found myself tearing up and clearing my throat. “The world looks more like you than it does me.”
And that’s a good thing, for so many reasons.
Epilogue: Rechecking my numbers, 18% may even be high. I’ve seen a forecast for as a low as 10% by 2060. Point is people of color are the global majority on this planet [and some don’t even know it!]. Best us light skinned folk start sharing the power….beginning with empowering the next young person of color you meet. Just try not to cry like I did.