Back when I was an educational administrator here in Tucson — and on the Hopi Reservation — I worked with white teachers who openly admitted they had trouble teaching children “of color” and came to me for help. Usually after I’d warned them that I was seeing their Black kids (mostly boys) in my office or sitting in the hallway alone outside the classroom door too often.

And somewhere at the beginning of those very difficult conversations, they would say something like, “I don’t understand why they’re so angry all the time! I don’t see color! I only see human beings! I treat everyone the same!” And I would think, “Well, there you are! They’re tired of being invisible to you.”

Some would eventually “get it.” Others were insulted or uneasy with the entire subject and would refuse training or even to talk about the issue at all, unless expressly ordered to do so by the school district. I was especially surprised how someone could choose to teach on a reservation and not want to acknowledge and be curious about — and learn from — the rich cultures those colors represented.

And then I thought about the terrible, terrifying history of Indian schools in America and Canada, where they tried to almost literally “wash” the color off of and the cultures out of those kids and…well…there you are.

Amazes me that I’m still having to deal with that issue so often in my daily life. I guess it shouldn’t really amaze me, but it does…

Award-winning former features reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star, HuffPo contributor and author.

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