Sometimes I feel compelled to dive into it—I'm not sure if it is a self-destructive streak, but the honest answer is... I don't get it and I'd love to have some intelligent feedback. So here we have a mini-rant, with a real life question... Please read patiently, as I fumble a little and don't want you to take away something different than I mean.
But I ALSO am a social psychologist who knows if the selection criteria is strictly racial you open the doors to criticism of ALL SORTS, and among elementary school students who don't really understand the full social implications of history, all THEY GET is one group gets to do something and THEY don't. It creates a huge division—a chip on the shoulders of the excluded. These poor kids were 'booed' on returning from this field trip that was supposed to be a special treat. THAT is not the legacy you want from an 'opportunity'--resentment from classmates? No thanks.
Some Situational History
Now this is the principal who was VERY willing to paint my (blond, blue eyed) son a BULLY when another kid LIED about him. This principal is, I think, too ready to SEE racism in a place I just am not willing to buy it is happening. As fourth graders the fact that my son and his friends used the term gang for their 'gang of friends' HE too to mean... you know... GANG... holy CRAP, this is Ann Arbor, Michigan. REALITY NEVER COMES HERE. Among these kids with highly educated parents, it is JUST A FREAKING WORD. Both my kids have friends from several racial groups, and at the moment BOTH have black best friends (my son's has been for years the same boy, so I don't see it changing). The principal, when accusing my son, actually seemed surprised to hear this FRIEND was the group 'leader' (being a charismatic guy) but happens to also LIKE everyone, so he is not the one to ever exclude anyone. It is perhaps my son's status as this boy's best friend that caused the jealousy that led to the lies... My POINT though, is I think if my son had brown skin, the principal would have cut him a break. I think the principal WANTED to see Sam as the bad guy—real easy—tall, handsome, good-looking kid... but he is a kid who NEVER lies and is almost always nice and considerate (and a straight A student). Yes, he has a low tolerance for jackasses, but we think we've finally taught him to hold his tongue on the topic, and he only EVER said, 'you're annoying, go away'--nothing ruder. (something that when most of US were kids was the correction needed to change behavior of said annoying child)
I KNOW as a GROUP we need to ensure institutional racism doesn't happen (or rather, STOPS happening, because it's REAL)—I am SO FOR THAT I can't even get it across—sheesh-I study HEALTH disparities for a LIVING, but I feel like this INDIVIDUAL is going too far with INDIVIDUALS to counter stuff. Well I guess he got busted.
And on some level, it is too bad. It sounds like it was a good opportunity, but it also sounds like it could have been handled SO MUCH better—ALL the lunch bunch included... or maybe all the FREE LUNCH kids, then let others 'pay' to go, if they could and wanted to.
I GET wanting role models for Black kids—successful scientists are a fabulous form of that, but if you are trying to convince me that white kids don't need to see successful black role models, you don't get it. I really HOPE that isn't how they see it (though I suspect maybe the principal misses this point). Instead what they saw was a black principal offering only black kids this special trip. The lesson ALL these kids need is ANYONE can do ANYTHING. I grew up in the Stephen Hawking era, and if a quadriplegic man can do the things he did, THAT is inspirational... not that this other stuff isn't—it is... I'm just saying you don't have to be LIKE somebody to be inspired, and to get the message ANYBODY CAN achieve high standards.
So there we are... mini-rant over. What is the answer? How do we balance giving kids from disadvantaged homes a leg up without creating resentment from other kids? How do we both acknowledge our miserable racial history and move past it at the same time. I KNOW the playing field has not been leveled—it may NEVER be, but... in a place with little racism, should the rules be different than in places where it is rampant? Was this principal RIGHT and I am missing it because he mistreated my son?
So maybe we should end with a nice, diverse group hug...
[<--this is a before and after shot]
they'd been saying it was going to and watching it for quite a while, so THAT wasn't terribly surprising. What WAS surprising was the direction of the wind and the warning that Moscow, Idaho, some 200 miles due east, was going to get some ash falling... and did we. School was canceled for the rest of the year. We had to wear masks for a while, and it was the STRANGEST stuff—so incredibly soft to run fingers over. I have a few pieces of pottery that have been glazed with ash and they're beautiful, but it was very surreal to have it get dark in the middle of the day and have that strange stuff falling from the sky. I guess compared to what Iceland is doing to Europe it's not so much, though I would argue the primary difference is in population density—the entire state of Idaho has maybe as many people as Cardiff... In fact it is so SPARSELY populated, that if you walk in the deep woods by the lake where my grandparents used to have a cabin, you can STILL kick up ash from under the fern leaves because nobody else has been there in the last 30 years.
So there you have it...