The principal and I step to the line, but the boys hesitate.Miguel is the first to come forth, smiling abashedly through his eyebrows. The second isFernando, who rolls his shoulders and mutters: “I guess one of my uncles.”A few of the boys meander away from the line, think for a minute, then take adetermined step up to it.Damontre never moves. His arms are crossed, and he stands defiantly away from thetape.Next question: “Step to the line if you’ve ever been judged for your race or your beliefs.”The line is full.“Step to the line if there’s a person in your life you’d like to thank for something.”Again, a full line appears.“Step to the line if you’ve given a thoughtful gift to someone that required you to put inyour time or money.”We all step to the line, except Tony. He holds back with his hands in his pockets,shuffling his feet uncomfortably before deciding he doesn’t belong on the line.
After the last question, we move the desks into a circle, sit on top of them, and promptthe boys to ask questions about what they observed.“So, you don’t like dogs or what?” Sadique asks the principal, who explains about hischild’s allergies.“What adults do adults trust?” Fernando calls out.The principal and I look at each other and toward the counselor, who says: “Well, yougotta believe we three have each other’s back in here.”“I wanna know why Mexicans don’t like basketball,” Anel asks of the four boys who’dstayed back from the line with him on that question.Estevan replies good-naturedly: “We’re short and quick, so we play soccer.”We all laugh together. It is a joyful sound, different from the derisive laughter we hear onmany days.I ask for another observation.“Why you so cheap you can’t give no one gifts, Tony?” one of the boys asks in a seriousvoice.