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God Don’t Like Ugly

January 12, 2012
teaching new orleans education

From a 17 year-old 8th grader responding to our DO NOW: Do you believe in soul mates?

I drove up to the school a couple mornings ago, running one minute late as usual. I open the car door and in the crack of pavement I see a used condom.At first I just think it’s gross, and as I heft my water, computer, coffee and oatmeal across the street into the building, I wonder what type of person disposes of their condoms on the street. The street! By a school!

I consider putting on rubber gloves and disposing of it. I don’t. I wonder what message we are giving to our students by ignoring dirty condoms laying just a few hundred feet from the front entrance of the school. That– and the pipes that leak and the holes in the ceiling and the broken windows and the lack of heaters and and and. We tell our students every day, without words, that this place isn’t valuable, that we can let it go.

Later on that day, my future lawyer but present-day bully is talking trash as usual. Just being ugly. And I whisper to her, as I do most days, that she has a filthy, shameful mouth, and that if she just used her words for good, good things would come to her. I tell her that any judge in her right mind would put a lawyer like her out of the court room. “Do you want to be a successful lawyer?” She reasons through this. It works a little bit, sometimes.

This particular day she’s being extra ugly. And as she’s tipped back in her chair messing with another student, her chair slips back just enough for her to swing her arms and kick her feet up to catch herself, drop her jaw in fear, and squeal. Her notecards fly onto the floor. She’s just felt that falling sensation that we all fear in our dreams, and that so many of my tipping students have felt as their bodies slam into the ground. School chairs and 40 year old linoleum aren’t the best of friends.

Bluntly from across the room, comes this from a kid who, when he attends school, talks too much and can’t sit down: “God don’t like ugly.”

I smile on the inside. I’m secretly glad she just almost fell. I wish she had fallen. I don’t want her to get hurt, just maybe to bruise her ego a little bit. You know, check her. Just a little bit.

As I return to my car later in the evening, I see the condom again. It moved? Or wait, did my car roll backwards? I take inventory of my parking, the curb, and then am struck again. It’s not the same condom. There are two. How does this happen?

I replay again in my head the comment from my student, and shake my head.  He’s right, God sure don’t like ugly.

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