Thursday, May 20, 2010


When I was a little girl, summers were times of huge fun. My sisters and I spent the long hot days splashing in the community pool, riding our bikes, having picnics at the top of a bluff behind our house, and playing endless games of neighborhood hide and seek in the dusky early evening. And there was always a vacation, usually back to the midwest to see grandparents and aunts and uncles.

My urban students' reality, however, is far different. Many of my kids will spend their summer in pieced together day care, or locked inside apartments with worried parents that call every 30 minutes to make sure that their kids are ok, because they can't afford day care. Some will spend part of their summer hungry, because they rely heavily on the school lunch program for sustenance. There won't be any swimming lessons, or soccer camps, or art clubs, let alone cross country vacations.

This week, at the poetry recital, our school psychologist shared a Langston Hughes poem that was new to me…

Merry Go Round
Where is the Jim Crow section
on this merry-go-round
Mister, because I want to ride.

…there ain't no back
To a merry-go-round
Where's the horse
For a kid that's black?

Langston Hughes

Read the rest of the poem here.

Laura Salas is hosting Poetry Friday here.


Tabatha said...

Very compelling post, Carol. What a difficult predicament for those kids and their parents.

I hadn't seen that Langston Hughes poem before -- thanks!

laurasalas said...

Powerful choice, Carol. I did a school visit and a career fair recently at two different schools whose populations were very diverse and whose kids probably have summers like the ones your students do. One thing about visiting different schools is that it really forces you to acknowledge the disparity among the lives and educations are kids are getting. Not that I didn't know it already, but when you're face to face with kids, the unfairness of it really hits you.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and this poem.

all things poetry said...

Yes, the disparity of realities is a challenge to watch. That is why I'm such a fan of libraries. If you have an address (of course, the street kids do not), then you can get a library card and escape into so many different worlds.

Laura Evans