Teaching Dance to Underprivileged Kids

There have always been conflicts between black and whites, racial discrimination and a lot of prejudice. In the short story “Teaching Dance to Underprivileged Kids”, published in 1989, we meet Carrie, who is in deep conflict with her self she doesn’t know to handle the problem white against black. It’s a story about how other peoples opinion can control your mind and heart and effect your decisions.

The twenty-two years old Carrie Lerner who is a brand new college graduate comes to a dance institute in Newark to teach underprivileged kids. She has just come from a paradise, so it’s such a big change for her to move to Newark where there are so many drugs and prostitutes, for that reason she is pretty nervous and doesn’t feel save here. It’s come to terms when she suddenly has a desire to run, and when she is holding tightly onto her two bags. The last sentence also shows that she doesn’t trust them.

If we are looking at Carries school years and her upbringing, its easier to understand why she is so unaware of the reality and why she is so scared. She has been on a college where she has been teaching in liberty and equality, but now she realizes that it doesn’t go along with the reality. She has until now lived in “Ivy-covered buildings, of tennis courts and saunas, of golf courses and riding stables” (ll. 14-15) it’s a picture of the fact that she has been living in her own world and cut off from the outside world. And maybe it’s the reason why she is calling the people in Newark underprivileged, she doesn’t know them.

The first week at the institute is horrible for Carrie because the students are terrible dancers. She has always been so focused on dancing so it’s hard for her to see some teenagers who aren’t very interested in dancing as she is. It’s a kind of defeat for her. In spite of the fact that she is handling the kids as good as she can though they are a bit out of control, she is going to teach the kids by herself and she feels nervous because it’s the first time she is alone with eighteen kids.

It doesn’t make the situation better when she walks out one night, and meets Andy – a Negro, who is the music coordinator. In a way you can say that this is the turning point in the story. Its here she notice how black his skin is against her white skin, a thing she never has been registered before. Carrie has never experienced anything social with black people, she only knows about black people intellectually and never needed to make a social statement about this race. And now she is standing face to face with Andy, so of course it’s strange for her, and therefore she notes the colour of his skin. Especially when she finds out that Lorraine, the activity program coordinator, are looking at them with disgust, she gets the feeling of during something wrong, its like Lorraine are manipulating Carrie not to get involved with a black. And consequently she doesn’t know how to react when she meets Andy for the second time. When he asks for a kiss she just comes up with a bad excuse “We only have three weeks left of the program. Then you are going back to Pennsylvania and I’m going to Boston or San Francisco, maybe. It’s silly to get involved” (Ll. 105-107) Its Lorraine’s fault that Carrie is reaching like this. Its also find expression when Carrie sees an Image of Lorraine, its like Carrie now indirect sees her self as Lorraine. This is quite a provoking thought because we just have to look at Lorraine appearance to see that she is a racist “pale blonde hair” (l. 119) “pale blue eyes” (l.36) And of course the situation where she are looking at Carrie and Andy with disgust. Maybe Carrie doesn’t want to be a racist, but now she is.

Through the story we get the feeling of the fact that Carrie is in a disagreement with her self, “let me explain” (l.1) “I want to explain” (l.85 and l.222) she wants to come to an agreement, but she can’t. For the first time in her life she can’t explain what is going on. And why she reacts as she does. It’s easy for us to see that she throws love away because of Lorraine’s manipulation.

The end of the story where she instinctively crosses to the other side of the street, when a black guy are talking to her confirms who she really is, that she hasn’t changed in spite of what she has felt for Andy and what she has leant in school. She is a racist like Lorraine.

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