A Woman Between: A Student Reflection on Race and Culture

In preparation for the Upper School production of South Pacific, faculty and students are discussing the musical's common themes including race and culture barriers. 
Students are asked: 

Is clannishness something essentially human? Something “fallenly” human?
How deeply do our preferences, boundaries, tolerances run?
When is something just interestingly different and when is the gap a real problem?
What is lost when we camp behind our walls and do not really meet/hear/know each other?
Do we have “to be taught to hate and fear” (as a song in the show claims)? Who does the teaching?
Are we doing all we can to instill the pulse, shape and character of the Kingdom gospel in and among our school?

In the essay below, Miss Weaver addresses the question, What is it like to live as a young woman of color in the broader Charlottesville community today?

A Woman Between by Mira Weaver '18

Growing up as an African American young lady has had its challenges, but I wouldn’t trade those challenges for anything. My school career started on preschool orientation night in a public school. Several teachers were there to complete evaluations to determine if students were ready to attend school. Earlier that day, I had hurt my finger and once I got to the school, before I would talk to any teacher, I wanted “a Band-aid for my boo-boo.” The teacher refused to give me a Band-aid until I answered her questions. So, being stubborn Mira Weaver, I decided not to talk until I got the Band-aid. The evaluator understood my silence as an impediment, and I was classified as “Special Ed."  Frustrated, my parents decided to send me to a small private school they had heard about called Grymes Memorial School. My twin brother and I attended Grymes from preschool to eighth grade, and were provided the best start to our academic careers.

In the rural area where I grew up, it was not common for African Americans to attend private school. Where we lived, going to a private school meant you were looked down upon. People accused my parents of trying to make my brother and me into something we weren’t. Many families around us were upset because they believed that our going to a private school was an attempt to show that we were better than their children. But my parents remained committed to their choice; they have busted their behinds for years now to make sure that my brother and I have the best education possible, no matter what it takes.

My brother and I have always been the minority wherever we have been in school. Both at Grymes and now at Covenant, We are reminded how many ways our lives are different from the majority around us. For example, there’s the matter of the common “sleepover.” Spending the night at a friend’s house is a very normal thing for most students here, but in my culture, it’s not. For us, sleepovers happen at your cousins’ or your grandparents’ house, not in your friends’ home. Being a minority student at Covenant, I’m still working on being able to spend the night at someone’s house. I’d bet you didn’t even think that was a thing for some of us!

Sometimes I do wish students would listen more and not be so quick to judge minority students’ cultures. It gets tiring to be called “ghetto” for using slang just to crack a joke every once in a while. Or, when some aspect of my African American culture is mocked and I object, it gets old to then be accused of being too sensitive. “Sophistication” does not necessarily look the same for all of us.

I know I am a woman between because of my background, and I am okay with that. I just look forward to being known more for who I am and not just who others think I should be.

// The Upper School Theater Department will present its annual full-scale musical, South Pacific, March 1 - 3, 2018. //

The Covenant School

Birdwood Campus | Lower School | Pre-K–Grade 5 |
1000 Birdwood Road Charlottesville, VA 22903 | 434.220.7309

Hickory Campus | Middle and Upper School | Grades 6–12 | 175 Hickory Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 | 434.220.7329
Located in Charlottesville, VA, The Covenant School is a non-denominational, private, Christian day school for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, visual and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.