Yesterday I heard a really troubling update on that story about the California students who were sent home for wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. I first wrote about it in “Tail starting to wag the dog in U.S.”
For starters, the principal who sent the kids home has admitted that doing so was a mistake and he has apologized. Okay, I thought; that’s a good start. However, he won’t be disciplined or fired. That’s not so good. We have enough problems in our schools without retaining administrators like this.
However, what I really didn’t need to hear was that the 150 or so Mexican-American students who marched in protest after the incident all felt the same as the girl quoted last week. They all felt the display of the American flag on Cinco de Mayo was “disrespecting” them.
I’d like to think those kids weren’t saying the mere presence of the American flag was offensive to them. I’d like to think they were angry, not because the boys were wearing flag shirts, but because they said or did deliberately offensive things. I’d like to think that America’s kids today, regardless of their backgrounds, are still Americans at heart.
I’d like to think these kids are being taught the right things at home and that they just got a little out of hand at school –even though a subsequent parents’ meeting ended in a shouting match over the same issue.
I’d like to think these things; I really would. But then the reporter closed his story by asking one of the Mexican-American girls what she thought about the whole situation.
Paraphrasing: “Well, like, we wouldn’t go waving Mexican flags on the Fourth of July… ”
What do these kids not understand about flags, respect, freedom, and being Americans? Don’t they understand that the American flag is never out of place in America? And that if they want to wave Mexican flags on the Fourth of July or any other day, they can? Why is this even an issue? Why are they turning it into us vs. them?
I’ve considered that I may be old and out of touch. I’ve considered that the world may have changed while I haven’t. I’ve even considered that my grasp of reality might have slipped a peg or two. But I refuse to be cast as someone trying to strip these kids of their identities, their freedom of expression, and their self-respect.
I am not a Borg.
2 thoughts on “We are not Borg”
Remember your article about how a school in Colorado was protecting its students from the fear of being ranked by eliminating the traditional grading system? Competition, winning, losing, trying, failing, succeeding, satisfaction, dissatisfaction… all of the things that make life exciting and meaningful are being turned in to objects of fear and reasons for insecurity. Without any notion of good and bad sportsmanship and the knowledge that you can support one thing and not have to fear or hate an opponent of your view, what else can we expect from these kids? I can’t blame them, but I blame those who would protect them from wonderful adventure of life itself.
So it’s the parents, teachers, and communities failing to educate their children. We are back to each generation, intentionally or not, instilling its attitudes and beliefs in the next. How do we break the cycle and stop perpetuating the negatives?
How do we break the cycle and stop perpetuating the negatives?
I don’t know the answer to that one. From my perspective, it was just an easier time. I was lucky enough to be born of parents that were were not exactly poor, but in our household we had almost no discretionary income. We were not poor in the sense that we lived in the country where we could raise most of our food and I was lucky enough to live in an area where associating with people of all colors was normal. I didn’t experience real discrimination until I took a job in D.C. in 1958. Everything was slower and there was less of it – no TV, no computers, no internet to tell us what was happening as it happened everywhere on Earth. There was no traffic to speak of and even preteens could leave in the morning on their bicycles to play at a distant friends house and not cause any worry if they didn’t come home till suppertime. If the police caught you doing something stupid, they took you home where the punishment was immediate and painful. The parking lot at my high school had at most 3 cars that belonged to students… and my graduating class had nearly 200 students. Girls who got pregnant were ostracized and the boys who were the cause were made to marry them… if they lived. Now, nearly every high school student has a car, an iPod, a Kindle, a computer notebook, a packet of condoms or a box of birth control pills and a MasterCard.
Add all that to the fact that most of us as parents wanted our kids to have an easier time growing up than we did. So, I have to accept some of the blame myself I guess.
The negatives I worry about are things like racism and ignorance. If kids grow up in homes and communities where other races are considered “the enemy,” they’re going to learn those attitudes and will, in turn, teach their kids. If they grow up in homes where education is unappreciated or unknown, they won’t care about getting an education. If they grow up oppressed, they will learn to hate the oppressor. From eating habits to political views, kids are most likely to absorb the views of their parents and communities. For better or worse, it’s self-perpetuating. I suppose it’s the price of freedom.