Another career-capping event occurred, a remark made by a student that summed up the attitudes of so many of our students and their parents. This cute little girl, a real sweetheart in my Spanish class, a freshman, asked in class if they had cupcakes in Mexico. There was a murmur and comments to the effect that some people might make them but they weren’t really a Mexican food, more North American. “Well, I make cupcakes and I’d like to sell cupcakes in Mexico…….. but just in the white part.”
Now, to the credit of the other students, there was a moment of stunned silence and then, quite off-topic, several said, “There is no white part.” Fortunately, the girl herself caught the effect of the remark and said, “I don’t mean to be racist, I’m not racist….” but I pointed out to her that the remark is very racist and why. She seemed to get it and we went on. A day or two later the class gave me a homemade retirement card they all signed and she wrote by her signature, “I’m not a racist.”
Clearly this girl sees being racist as the same thing as being mean. That’s how these kids learn about racism at home and why it is so easy for them to say that it is racist that teachers can drink coffee in the classroom but students can’t bring drinks. I laugh at my non-teacher friends who blink at that and then explain that that is discrimination and they have heard the words racist and discrimination used together to mean being mean to someone.
Why is this? Because their parents are anti-immigrant and believe Obama is giving White taxpayers’ money to Blacks and so forth. This was all spelled out in the campaign…. by Gingrich, Santorum, Romney, and many others. These people really believe that the federal government is siphoning off money to countries of Black and brown people and giving handouts to the same here in this country to buy alliances and votes. That is how they see the Democratic Party and what they tell their children. The Civil Rights Movement was a grab for more welfare.
You here this in the classroom when discussing poverty in Latin-American countries: poverty comes from not working hard enough. It is esp bothersome that many of our Hispanic students are taught this. My school is heavily Republican and few kids seem to see any TV news other than Fox.
I admit it is fun to hear kids pop up with this stuff, unaware of the transparent conservative agenda they are espousing: the Republican Party platform. I’ve already posted on the social studies teacher who told the students I was a Progressive and that I blamed America (for what I never found out). So the last day of class I read off a nice comparison of Liberals and Progressives to highlight the differences and then told them (these were my sophomores) the story of the ultra conservative, very right wing teacher at my old school who thought I was so radical and leftist who then went to New England for a couple of weeks for training and came back very enlightened. “Boy, Pat, you ARE centrist. THOSE PEOPLE….!!!” Very funny.
I know a few kids appreciated my bringing another viewpoint to their minds since few teachers at my school talk about politics except the very right wing social studies department. And all of them express their appreciation for the fact that I talk to them, allow them to express their opinions, express mine, and so on. They just don’t get that and I’m not sure public schools are much different. To be fair, Catholic schools are under pressure b/c of the abortion issue to draw a firm line on political activity. Several teachers told me it had been made clear to them that any political talk on campus could result in repercussions. Apparently that doesn’t apply to everyone.