Monday, January 17, 2011

Political Correctness Run Amok - MLK Day

At four, big brother was finally let into the secret of different skin colors during an MLK celebration at his pre-school. I think that this is something that kids figure out in due time without our help and the irony was not lost on me that a celebration of Martin Luther King's life's work to teach that we are all created equal, Big Brother finally learnt that we are different. Now this is in a private pre-school so it was not as if there was some State mandate to teach this.

Fast forward two years later, and big brother's first grade class is treated to a movie presentation of Martin Luther King's assasination. Granted it is a cartoon, and maybe I am rather slow in feeding my six year old a diet of cartoon images of violence and death, but still I think it is a bit much. I think in our efforts to out do each other in how much we esteem diversity (never mind the fact that I live in a supposedly pretty liberal and diverse state, but where racial segratation is the norm in most neighborhoods) I think sometimes we forgo commonsense. I am having to fast track teaching my six year old about prejudice and hatred based on race because the public school system in its quest to be politically correct has introduced concepts that I think are a bit premature for six year olds. Kids can be pretty cruel on their own and in trying to find their place in the playground pecking order, I think sometimes in our politically correct world, we give them things to add to their arsenal. I am sure most four year olds leave alone six year olds do not intrinsically use race as a weapon in the pecking order wars, but I think adults introduce this concept, even when we think we are doing good. Not sure this is really what MLK fought for and died for.

1 comment:

r. said...

Actually 4 and 6 year-olds do use race as a role in their pecking-order wars. One of the amici briefs that played a role in the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. The Board of Education had discussed a study showing that even 3-year-old children of color displayed a preference for white dolls, etc., because they understood the differences that came with color in their society.

When I was in kindergarten, I remember being afraid to kiss the hand of an African American boy in my class, because I thought that since his skin was brown it must be "dirty." (Never mind the issue of what motivated me to go around kissing my friends' hands in the first place...) My parents weren't and aren't racists, but I hadn't been exposed much to people of color before kindergarten, except for what I saw--mostly negative--in the world around me. People of color had cleaning jobs, they were the beggars on the streets, they were the "bad guys" in the quick snippets of news shows I saw. And so I absorbed all this, because nobody thought it was their place to talk openly about race, and so I just filled in all the blanks with whatever I came up with on my own.

I think there is room for debate about what should be taught in the school vs. in the family, but I have definitely first grade kids use race as an issue against each other, even in this day and age.

By the way -- a blog post I love: