Pilgrims & Indians: WTF?

I remember the nostalgic yesteryears.  I was an English speaking kid in a Spanish-speaking world of Los Angeles.  There were novelty English speaking parts in the Christmas story for my brother and I.  I am a “City Indian” as well.  I grew up around the pride of being brown, the pride of being white, and the pride of being “native.”

I have never liked Thanksgiving much.  I think it is a holiday of novelty and insincere attitudes.  I also think its roots reek of racism and oppression.  I get mad when I think of a holiday that is based upon the kindness of one people as they harbor another.  Bullshite!  The native population was massacred and unjustly treated by a conquering people.  We celebrate this on this day as others give thanks on the backs of others. 

I  read this article from the LA Times this morning.  WTF?!?!

“It’s demeaning,” Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, wrote to her daughter’s teacher. “I’m sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation’s history.”

When will we stop the sentimentality of oppression?  It seems to me that it is ok to romanticize the history of America as long as we are sorry, or sort of sorry.

“My son was so proud,” she said. “In his eyes, he thinks that’s what it looks like to be Indian.[a parent of one of the students]”

So it is ok if children are innocently involved.  Is it not our duty to our children to educate them on the ills of stereotypes and racism?  If the children think all “Indians” wear headdresses and vests and high five Pilgrims because they are now friends is it ok?  What about the Native children?  What message does this send to them?

“using those children as a political platform for herself and her ideas,”  How horrible is it to use your children to propagate racist stereotypes?  “She’s not going to tell us what we can and cannot wear,” said Dena Murphy, whose 5-year-old son attends Mountain View. “We’re tired of [district officials] cowing down to people. It’s not right. [parent of one of the students]”  How dare district officials educate anyone on the abusive, offensive, and arcane stereotypes that we teach our kids.  Again what if the kids showed up in master/slave or Jewish/Nazi costumes.  They look cute and we are entertained.  What does this say about the acceptance of all of America’s diversity?  It is ok to abuse a people as long as they do not make noise and offend of “religious” rights to abuse them?  I do not believe that is guaranteed in the constitution.  Nor do I think that is what Jesus would do.

“Its always a good thing to think about, critically, how we teach kids, even from very young ages, the message we want them to learn, and the respect for the diversity of the American experiences,” said Jennifer Tilton, an assistant professor of race and ethnic studies at the University of Redlands and a Claremont parent who opposes the costumes.  It is our obligation to our children to raise them up in knowledge and wisdom.  We fail our children when we take the easy way out and abandon morality for cheap traditional, romantic idealism.  This is simply entertainment and is void of education.

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