Mississippi Moments

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Wade in the water, wade in the water, my children,
wade in the water, and I will bring you Home."
We're learning lots of songs about the Mississippi River.
And summer has definitely come to the Delta. My fade-o-meter is usually on overload, well, right about now, and I've only been outside for about ten minutes for recess today. I wanted to show the little kids at the Learning Center how to use the soccer balls and other equipment that Sara and Rowan sent. I took pictures. I had more than a few takers. I learned a new rule in two-square today as well----suicide. Not sure exactly what it means but I will share when I do find out.
We did quite a bit of clay work this morning. We are building 3-D representations of the channel, delta, sea, and levees to match the diagrams in their notebooks.
We are heading up to the Tunica River Museum on Wednesday. We will be well-prepared.
So it was and wasn't a busy weekend. We took Ms. Joyce to the airport on Saturday morning and then Sr. T and I went to a funky, Elvis-centric restaurant on the Graceland strip called Marlowe's. Had big bucket o'salad. Then to the River Mususm. It was interesting, interactive, and pleasant. I learned some more about the terrible floods of 1927. Many African-American families in the Delta were forced to live ON THE LEVEES for months and months because that was the only dry land for 50+ miles. The people were forced to work to repair the levees, all ages, and some were paid and some were not paid. Even the federal government was in on the armed patrols to keep the "workers" here. And you can see the absolute misery and despondency in the photos...and there are not any white people hauling those huge sacks of earth and sand. I also finished a book called "Minds Stayed on Freedom". This book came out of a summer research and writing project for some kids a couple of counties over-Holmes County. They interviewed many of the local dirt farmers, a teacher, a preacher, some "houseladies" (ladies who were working for a white family), plantation workers to find out how they were involved in the grassroots movement of the Civil Rights. This whole process, the Movement, was different from the media version and big-name marches/speeches/hoopla side that is mostly presented. This is from teh perspective of the people who just everyday said NO to injustice and prejudice. They were not nonviolent and docile. They armed themselves. They were persistant. They talked back and shot back and stood up for their families, their farms and homes, and their rights. They integrated local schools on their own and what this means is that literally ALL of the white kids left to go to private academies. This is what happened in Jonestown and is still the case. There was one little child, of Chinese heritage, who tried to attend Jonestown Elementary last year. Apparently the abuse was so bad on this child from the local children that the child's parents pulled their kid and put her in the local private academy in Clarkesdale. They had no other choice. Sr. T says that if she had children, they would not be allowed to attend Jonestown Elementary. Sad reality.
There is another interesting phenomenon around here. There are crops of soy, cotton, corn, and sunflowers. The spraying from the air is in progress. I am not looking forward to next week in that we will be doing our sports outside. Also, when one crop is finished, they routinely burn the fields and replant. All along the local bayou, Swan Lake just down the road, the trees are now dead, red, and awful-looking. They just burnt the trees along with the field. They are also burning garbage here. I also find it very difficult not to recycle or compost. Sr. T says I have to quit comparing here with my there. Okay. We went to church on Saturday night at the "white" church in Clarkesdale. It was boring, the music. Not gospel, blues, and praise. Very "white". The presider was a visiting priest who works with the poorest of the poor in Haiti. He was on fire with passion for his work and wanted us to get involved, too.
That's another thing that annoys me. At home in the Northwest, how often do I think of what color my skin is...uh, never. Here, it is all the time, every day. And it's how people think. The kids, too. I have never been in the local grocery by myself because I am afraid to. I have never been to the cemetery on the other side of town because I am afraid to walk there by myself and everyone I ask to walk with me looks at me like I am crazy. I might just get up and go anyway, It is in a rough part of town called "The Park". It was featured in that news show that got everyone upset and they still are. It was FOx Memphis station. They had a big meeting. The town council has started a petition and a letter to invite the tv people back but to see things from a more broad, realistic, and POSITIVE perspective. The woman who was featured in the tv spot was a sister of one of the teachers at the Learning Center who just received her R.N. degree and pin.! Her parents won their own businesses and are college-educated. This sister is the one member of the family who believes that she is "entitled" to things. She keeps getting beaten up by other women in town now because of what she did on t.v. Anyhow, all I know is that it might bring the community together but it probably won't. Now I must change my clothes and go practice free throws with Rorica before the other girls-to-women get here. Rorica is an awesome young lady. She always tries her best! She works hard and she learns from her mistakes. She is going to go to college to become a pediatrician and she is looking over my shoulder as I write this! She also has a super smile and she doesn't know how beautiful she is. Love to you all!+-
I found a self-assessment soccer checklist that I am going to give to the girls today


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