Hold on a moment while I pick my jaw up off the ground...
Just when I thought that people couldn’t surprise me anymore, something like this little anecdote comes along.
Was on the phone with my galpal, the teacher in NC, and she relayed this story to me. A grade level in her school was presenting a program about biographies, where the kids dressed up and read their individual reports about a notable person. One fellow, who happens to be caucasian, wrote his report about Barack Obama. (YAY!) Unbeknownst to his mother or my friend, his teacher decided that he needed a little extra something for his presentation.
And so she painted his face with black poster paint.
I wish I was kidding.
It was all his poor mother could do not to completely storm the stage when she saw what was going on. Needless to say, she had quite a few choice words for the teacher and when the kids took the stage again for their second performance, our fellow was clean-scrubbed and fresh-faced.
The biggest problem for me in this little tale is that when my friend was discussing this with her co-workers, they couldn’t understand what was wrong about this incident in the first place. About how completely offensive it was.
Unbelievable. In this day and time, the fact that such attitudes still exist blows my mind. I literally ran to my calendar to make sure that we hadn’t time-shifted and were all hanging out in 1908 instead of 2008.
When my galpal was telling me this story, I kept waiting for her to tell me that our fellow ended his report on one knee, belting out “Mammy.”
Thank goodness for the clear-headed thinking of the mother and my friend. I suspect they both educated a whole lot of people that day.
It’s stories like this one that make me realize that for all the progress we’ve made in this country regarding race (and gender, for that matter) issues, we still have a hell of a long way to go.