The Standard for All Kinds of Things

Mr. Lee's 5th & 6th grade class, Sunnyside Elementary, Wichita, Kansas, 1976/77.

“Children—and humans, everybody—all need both windows and mirrors in their lives: mirrors through which you can see yourself and windows through which you can see the world. And minority children have not had mirrors.

That has placed them at a disadvantage. If you want to call white children majority children—[they] have had only mirrors. That has placed them at a disadvantage also…Because they live on a planet that is more window than mirror. And they have tended to believe that the planet is a planet like them or people who wish to be like them. And it’s not necessarily so.

It’s a mistake to believe oneself one’s only valid participator in life, that that is the standard, the standard for human is white. I tell children the standard for flowers is many-colored; the standard for all kinds of things is many-colored. That is also the standard for humans, though they have not been taught that.”

~ Lucille Clifton, from “She Could Tell You Stories,” interview by Hilary Holladay, Poetry Foundation (April 11, 1998)