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View Diary: Racist song in my kid's music class, Part 2 (313 comments)

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  •  "Teaching race"? (none)
    What does that mean? Acknowledging to kids that blacks and Asians and Latin Americans look different? It's obvious to anyone with eyes. It doesn't have to be "taught." If there's just one black kid in an otherwise lily-white school class, OF COURSE those kids are going to see racial differences. As an Irish-American kid growing up in a predominantly white Greater Boston neighborhood public school, I did.

    Hell, I noticed the physical differences between my other Irish-American classmates and the beautiful, fragile-looking Eastern European gal with the exotic name who joined us mid-year. And when I attended art class with another classmate on a scholarship, I was also aware that Mary, my best friend, was Asian. That made her different-looking than me, but that's all.

    It's not the differences kids pick up on in and of themselves that are damaging. It's when subjective baggage and value judgements are attached to those physical differences that the damage, the "debilitating awareness," occurs.

    When at the age of four I asked my dad why Karen's skin was so much darker than mine, he said that she was probably a distant relative of people who used to live in Africa or South America, the way that we resembled our great-grandparents who came from Ireland. That was enough explanation for me at the time, and I was able to extrapolate that explanation to why Asians and Indians looked different, too. His words opened my mind, rather than closing it, and led later to learning how the children of those Asians and African Americans came to be living in America and attending school with me.

    If that's what you mean by "teaching race," my friend, I think your concern is misplaced.

    There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

    by Sharoney on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 01:44:06 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Sharoney, you wrote (4.00)
      "When at the age of four I asked my dad why Karen's skin was so much darker than mine, he said that she was probably a distant relative of people who used to live in Africa or South America, the way that we resembled our great-grandparents who came from Ireland. That was enough explanation for me at the time, and I was able to extrapolate that explanation to why Asians and Indians looked different, too."

      When I was 4, I was more focused on crapping my pants than extrapolating. You're a very advanced human being.

      My body is not a condo!

      by GunsCantHug on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 01:58:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LOL (none)
        "Advanced"?

        Ha! Thanks for the chuckle.

        I got myself into a LOT of trouble by asking too many precocious questions. Luckily my dad was a patient and loving man.

        There is but one surefire way to vanquish conservatives, and that is to beat the shit out of them."--David Podvin

        by Sharoney on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 03:07:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  a great book on this (none)
      is Beverly Daniel Tatum's "Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity ... it's a brilliant book looking at what children notice about race and difference and what we teach them as they are learning to notice. I think everyone in the country should read it. Maybe especially white people.

      My college (predominantly white, including me) uses it in some intro classes on race relations and racism and it is very useful, as well as being accessible and even inspiring in its writing. One thing that's so noticable in these classes is how the students are so very uncomfortable about talking about race, even mentioning it in a neutral fashion. And that's because our society's standard is to not mention it at all because it's not polite or makes people uncomfortable, which prevents people from getting the practice talking about race or talking to people of a different race. And I think we need lots of practice talking, before we actually run into tense situations where tempers run hot. So I think all of us should be talking with our kids (or families) about race and American history, even on the most general and introductory level.

      "There are no shortcuts to accomplishing constructive social change ... struggle is called 'struggle' for a reason." Ward Churchill

      by CAuniongirl on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 10:00:36 PM PST

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