Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not Black or White

High schools in Utah have things called "color wars." It's a week when students at the school divide into two teams (usually freshmen and sophomores versus juniors and seniors) and battle in a series of really stupid contests, each team representing one of the school's two representative colors.

Sounds harmless, right? Well, sure, unless the colors of the school are black and white. Then you end up with kids yelling "black power" and "white power" and possibly wearing white hooded like garments (pillow cases, they say), and all hell breaking loose.

One kid has now been suspended, as have the Vice Principal and Principal for not stopping the events as they happened. Everyone involved (except for the people who were offended) say it was all in harmless fun, and that they were thinking of the "color wars" and not any racist overtones. The parents of the boy suspended say his punishment doesn't fit the crime, since he never "meant" the pillow case to look like a hood, and he didn't bring it to school anyway. The NAACP says they don't care, and want him expelled. They want the administration fired too.

The thing that really gets me is the fact no one wants to take this moment as to teach, rather than a moment to punish. Was that kid wrong? Hell yes. Should the administration have paid more attention? Oh, yeah. Could they all have really not meant any harm and just have been lulled into not seeing racism because no one wants to acknowledge it or teach their children what it looks like any more? I think that's entirely possible.

We teach our kids to recognize poison, and danger, but when it comes to racism, we try to pretend it can't hurt them, that we are "past that." We aren't past that. Race is an issue. Trying to pretend it isn't, and that are not racist undertones in everyday society, is like not telling kids poison can harm.

I think the first thing we need to do is get rid of "color wars." I mean, does no one see the problem with that? Are we going to call field day "race riots," next because running like that is so fun?

Yeah, not so harmless.

18 comments:

Erin said...

Ok that is really, really dumb. No, there should not be "color wars." Why don't they do what we used to do, and just hate each other based on what year we were graduating?

LL Cool Joe said...

Color wars?? I've never even heard of it, and it sounds terrible to me. I'm shocked they exist at all.

Phil said...

I'm surprised the adults didn't see the problem with naming the school event "Color Wars", but then again, from what I know about Utah, it's pretty homogeneous there so the adults involved are most likely naive and stupid. Our schools have events like that but usually pitting one grade against another in harmless, silly events.

G said...

Libby, you have a valid point. Too bad it will fall on deaf ears.

Between the political correctness and the zero tolerance of everything in general, the knee jerk reaction to stuff like this will always be to punish.

Learning will come much later...probably when the child is out of school and living in the real world.

Katie said...

You have no idea how much I agree.

I'm sitting here reading this as I work on the same post I've been struggle to write for days. It's about how "I can't believe it's 2011, and I have to sit here and have blunt conversations with family members and friends about the possibility of us being matched with a biracial baby." I wish race weren't an issue, but it is - everywhere. I'm beginning to fear that we'll never get to a point when we don't view people by how they look.

Jules said...

Yikes! The dangers of that should have been seen before it began. Seriously.

BugginWord said...

What happened to Cowboy Day and Wear Your Pajamas to School Day?

Kris said...

Ah, yet another thing I have blocked out about my years in Utah as a kid. I can't believe they are still doing that.

Hippo Brigade said...

Geez man! What the heck is up with kids? Can't we all hold hands and sing about how God loves all of us instead? I have mere babes, but I'm teaching them that we all look a little bit different, and that's what makes us special. Perhaps these mamas never told their children that there are other people that look different from them? Maybe denying difference was their way of being tolerant? what a disservice.
P.S. I think I have a mega crush on LL Cool Joe. His profile pic is so steamy.

Kelley said...

Seriously, get rid of color wars. I mean, isn't it obvious that something like that could lead to problems? The name itself just sounds bad. It's sad that problems like this even still exist.

Little Ms Blogger said...

I guess this school never taught these students about the Civil War, Slavery or about the Ku Klux Klan.

Why do they call it Color Wars? Why not just call it field day where competition is played out on games using the same premise of Freshman & Sophmore vs Juniors and Seniors?

They can all wear t-shirts with their grade on the t-shirt.

Scribe said...

Holy CRAP, Libby! Colour wars? Are you kidding me?!?! I don't understand how the schools could not see the problem with this. Sure, there is school and/or team spirit but to label it as a colour war is juvenile. People who think this as innocent or see nothing wrong with it are in denial.

Riot Kitty said...

Sad to say it's still an issue, isn't it? Shouldn't we have moved past this by now?

Wanna Bee said...

wow - and have you ever seen the movie "Colors" all about gangs. Any way wow just wow. Great point about a teaching moment.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I do *not* mean to make light of this, but our local high school's colors are Gold and Green.

Doesn't quite pack the same punch, does it?

Thanks for this.
Ellie

Kelly said...

I have been steaming about this, since I first saw it on Twitter. I still don't think I can put anything coherent into words about how I feel about it. But, I'm going to try.

You are so right that they COULD take this as a moment to teach, but usually what ends up happening is the fingers start pointing everywhere, and nothing happens. It just makes me sick. It is 2011, but the truth is that there is still racism everywhere. Many would disagree, but they are not part of a biracial family, or belong to a minority race.

justmakingourway said...

Just...wow. I'm speechless. How does this get past any adult as being an okay thing to do. Good lord.

Granny Annie said...

Oh CRAP! In the infamous words of Rodney King "Why can't we all just get along?" I'm pretty sick and tired of not being able to blink.