Two of my kids are reading The Great Gatsby this summer.

*** I wrote this in 2014, but a thread on Twitter got me reminiscing about my years volunteering at the women’s shelter and how much I loved all those bad ass kids. I’m copying it from my old blog.

School starts back this week and two of the kids I help with homework (one is currently in the shelter with her mom and the other is her friend from the neighborhood) have the same reading assignment.  Today I took some of them to the park with another volunteer for a little Labor Day picnic earlier, and I told them to bring their summer reading assignments so I could look them over.

Mary & Jane (names are made up) both had to answer essay questions about The Great Gatsby, but Jane’s was hella short and you could tell she didn’t really read the book.  I asked her why and she said she was tired of reading about white people.

Me:  How do you know they’re white?
Jane:  They always white.  And these are rich people in the 20s so I know they white.
Mary:  Just pretend!  Girl that’s what I do.
Me:  You do?
Mary:  Yea, the story is always better when it’s more colors.  Like Tom?  He Black.  He look like NeYo.  He kinda smooth but he got secrets.  

Mary proceeds to lay out ethnicities and comparisons for EVERYBODY in the whole book.

Me:  What about Daisy?
Mary:  Oh she can stay white.  She gettin niggas shot up and runnin over people with cars.  That’s messy.

One day I’ll have to teach her the prejudice inherent in keeping Daisy white just because she’s messy, but not today because A) she really took to the reading material and B) I’m too busy laughing.

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