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Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr. Believed In... a kindergarten primer

Okay, Martin Luther King, Jr., did not believe in plastic forks. That was just the first thing I had lying around to protect the pseudonymity of the innocent.

Yes, peace. Which is illustrated by white kids (check the hair) hugging each other. BB, as per the assignment, crossed out the picture that showed the opposite of peace: a black kid pushing a white kid. Um. This lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr., seems to be missing something. Like, I dunno... an anti-racist component? Historical context? Civil rights? Okay, I get that these are hard concepts to teach to five-year-olds. But not-so-subtle pictorial messages that black boys are nothing but trouble? That, apparently, is easy to teach to five-year-olds.

White boys! Don't tower over black girls and kick their toys! Get down on her level and help that poor girl. Lord knows she can't build with blocks by herself.

Martin Luther King, Jr., believed very strongly that white children should not litter. White folks! Use the trash cans!

After this important lesson, BB gives the obvious answer to the question of how she could be like Martin Luther King, Jr.: "black and white Guys can Drink the sam coffe." Because if there's one thing that BB has learned in her short life, it's that caffeine is the way to spread peace and happiness.


Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

That was HYSTERICAL. (What I really want to know is why the book was done in the shape of a chicken?? any relation to... fried chicken??) (I say that partly because a school here got in trouble for planning to serve lunch "in honor of MLK Jr" that consisted of fried chicken, greens, and cornbread, so it's on my mind!)

11:41 AM, January 18, 2010  
Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

(Where hysterical = you have to laugh or you'd cry, of course.)

11:42 AM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Deb said...

Was the book supposed to be in shape of a dove? Looks like an olive branch in the mouth. I like BB's answer :)

1:07 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

New Kid, LG and I had a debate on that very issue. He was of the opinion that the book was shaped like a duck, which he found even more inexplicable than the "MLK was against littering" message. (Though we came up with a catchy slogan: "Throw it away, for MLK!") I thought it was probably supposed to be a peace-symbolizing dove. BB can be forgiven for coloring it in such that it most resembles poultry, don't you think?

1:11 PM, January 18, 2010  
Anonymous turtlebella said...

Oh dear god. It's shocking and yet not at all suprising the number of lessons for preschoolers and elementary (and beyond I am sure) around MLK day just totally miss the boat.

1:37 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger elswhere said...

...or is it too tasteless to say that they miss the bus?

4:14 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Susan O said...

I love it.

4:42 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Susan O said...

in an ironic sort of way, that is.

4:42 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Paige said...

It's a CANARY! The Canary of peace. But crikey, yeah, those are some skeevy mixed messages.

5:05 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Tall Kate said...

Oh. My. God. That is all.

5:33 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Jody said...

Tall Kate stole my lines.

I thought it was a chicken. The chicken of peace.

7:15 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger diber said...

nearly fell off the couch laughing about the coffee.

The rest of it...just.. wow.

8:28 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger landismom said...

Ye gods, that's ridiculous. I had a conniption when the Bee came home from kindergarten & told me that Rosa Parks "just got tired," though, so maybe I'm just overly sensitive.

8:52 PM, January 18, 2010  
Anonymous Madeleine said...

Priceless. I wonder if BB is mixing together the lunch counters and the water fountains.

"And everyone was allowed to drink from the same coffee drinking fountains. The end."

P.S. for a more uplifting illustrated guide to being human, I suggest We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures.

9:05 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger S. said...

I think the first pair of pictures is just a huge freakout on every level, and it starts with the decision to show the two kids hugging as "peace," because now you have to have two kids of the different sexes hugging, or else you'll be teaching homosexuality in school and *that* would never do. But wait! They have to be of the same race, too, or you'll be promoting miscegenation, which is also problematic.

But then in the second panel all the careful balancing and erasing of black and queer sexuality comes apart and you have the eruption of the repressed fantasy of the Black male usurpation of white male privilege as the Black boy shoves aside the white boy (to take his place? or in what might very well be a lover's spat?). The next two panels smooth over this dangerous physical contact by first showing the white boy first turning on the Black girl (in potential revenge for his humiliation at the hands of the Black boy?) then once again erasing that violent history via a completely desexualized relationship between Black femininity and white masculinity, with contact mediated through the blocks, thus reassuring the reader that white male privilege can be redeemed through service to grateful subalterns.

And in the final panels, the white woman, the "angel in the house" is idealized, while white male privilege gets the final word white the white boy throwing his detritus wherever he pleases.

But it's possible I've taken to many women's studies and racial theory classes.

9:28 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger susan said...

Hey! How about we get together and open a coffee bar called The Canary of Peace? And put really, really big litter bins out front?

9:47 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Suzan said...

Brilliant. Thanks for sharing that!

10:52 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger liz said...

The Canary of Peace!

11:39 AM, January 21, 2010  
Anonymous Yankee T said...

OK I am on the floor, for a variety of reasons: I'm either horrified, laughing, or beside myself.

My personal favorite? The anti-litter slogan!

6:28 PM, January 22, 2010  

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