keeping a pledge

Summer is busy at our public library. Kids out of school means library traffic picks up, with moms and kids dodging in and out of traffic with canvas book bags. Parking is chaos. Kids at the library in summer is a wonderful chaos, though.

My library visit needed to be quick today. I had groceries in the hot car. So when I saw two high school kids doing some survey on the library steps, I could only think about the delay. As I headed up the steps, the girl approached me. She asked if I’d sign a pledge to help stop the bullying against gay and lesbian students. I signed, ashamed that I’d tried to rush past without making eye contact.

In that moment, I was sure of myself. I was brave, certain I’d speak up against discrimination and bullying. But the braveness is not always within me. A few years ago, I witnessed a discriminatory act resulting in someone being passed over as a Dean at my university because of his race. An administrator, who chaired the search committee, came out of her office carrying one of the files. She began to make fun of his name. His name was Asian.

I did not speak up. I did not call Human Resources or Affirmative Action. I did nothing. A few months later, I left that office.

Yet, now I have a pledge. A quiet pledge to myself, and more importantly, to the girl with a pixie haircut, standing hopefully on the steps of the library on a hot summer day.