Monday, March 10, 2008

American Racial History By a Four Year Old

“Maya, guess who's coming over next Wednesday?” asked Tash. We have a babysitter named Rachel who Maya adores - she will frequently ask us when we are going out next so Rachel can come over.

“Her name begins with R, rrrrrrrrrrrr,” enunciated Tash, hoping that Maya would guess correctly.

This was greeted with a blank look.

“R .A., rrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaay…”

“Ray Charles?!” shouted Maya excitedly.

“Ray Charles?” guffawed Tash looking me. I was doubled over laughing.

“Who is Ray Charles, Maya?” I asked after I had recovered.

“He was a Black American, and he was blind when he was a boy, so he had to buy sunglasses when he grew up,” she explained patiently. “Oh, and he played piano.”

“How do you know this?”

“We learned it during Black American Month” *

“What other African Americans do you know?”

“The Supremes,” she stated confidently.”And Colin** Powell. But I think he’s white not black.”

“Do you know famous people from any other races,” I probed, “maybe Asian-Americans?”

“Yes, Martin Luther King, but he’s dead, he was shotted (yes, shotted) by the white people because they didn’t like him.”

*African American History Month is celebrated in February.
** pronounced C-ah-lin not C-oh-lin

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Blogger madness rivera said...

Uh, I've always loved these conversations with my girls. And thank goodness for MLK or no Asian Americans would be integrated into American schools.

2:13 PM  
Blogger John Mc said...


We were gobsmacked. It was hilarious, although I'm not sure I approve of introducing race at such a young age, especially focusing on one race. Let'em be kids, nothing at all wrong about knowing about MLK, but in terms of achievement, the achievement should be highlighted at that age, not the race. They have no context as to why African Americans are being highlighted.

3:53 PM  

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