Was This Part Of The Dream?

I’ve wrestled for a couple of days on how to compose this post, and I’m still not sure I can do this idea justice.  I think the best way to frame it is to begin by quoting an email a friend sent to me on Saturday.  A little background–he has two small children who are enrolled in arguably the best pre-school in their city. 

When he picked up his kids last Friday and asked them what they’d learned, they told him about “Martin Luther The King”–very cute.  How sad it is that the lesson they learned about one of the greatest Americans in history is sprinkled with horrible ideas that totally contradict Dr. King’s message…

He helped black people. The white people weren’t nice to him. They put him in jail.  Yeah, and they killed him.
All black people are nice. White people are mean.
The white people hit him and wouldn’t go to school with him.

Those were direct quotes from the kids.   And as my friend pointed out:

By the way, before yesterday, they had absolutely no idea that
there were black people or white people.

There’s no better time than childhood to reinforce what kids already know to be true–that people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  I realize they are kids, and they obviously get some things mixed up.  And I also realize that they still don’t really grasp who Martin Luther King Jr. was.

But I don’t think “All _____ people are bad and all _____ people are good” is what Dr. King had in mind.  Fill in the blanks with any adjectives you want–black, white, red, yellow, Christian, Jewish, pretty, ugly, stupid, smart, rich, poor, Mexican, French, short, tall, fat, skinny, etc.–and that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s shameful when a great message like Dr. King’s is bastardized to further an agenda.  Knowing no other details that what I’ve shared here, I can’t say that’s what happened in their school.  I doubt the teacher(s) told these kids directly that “all white people are bad and all black people are good,” but if that’s the message that was received, they might as well have.

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Comments

It is sad that kids have to learn from adults the color of their skin. It will be interesting to see when my nephew (an actual “African American”) will learn that he is black and his cousins are white. As Dr. King would have it….hopefully never.
Good post on a day honoring a good man doing great things.

Thought provoking post today, and reinforces what is sometimes not intuitive, kids don’t just learn positive and negative traits from their families and friends, but also from their environment and education systems (starting w/ daycare). These things have been very much on my mind as I have two kids in daycare myself.

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