Can you pash that dish of oppression?

Monday, October 08, 2007

It is no secret that my politics are.....quite left. I AM that left wing bleeding heart liberal that gets demonized in the press. The fact that my spouse is a bit more left than I am makes for an interesting parenting experience.

Now, aside from the lack of godliness in the home ( which I am sure indicates a lack of "values" or whatever the hell else won the republicans the last election)- there is a decided "anti-establishment" theme to many of the books in our home. Look, there is the Marx reader ( my husband's), See there Alfie Kohn's books on the failings of the American educational system, Behold "Lies my Teacher Told Me" on my bedside. Our child had no regular alphabet in her room - she was looking at the "Alternative Alphabet" - featuring "P is for Peace and Y is for Yoga". You get the point.

So when our daughter comes home from public school with a cut and color Columbus day ship and asks us if we are going to have a Columbus day feast to honor Columbus - you get two dumbfounded adults scrambling for a response.

Terrance's response: "Daddy isn't into Columbus. I don't do Columbus day."

Oh, very helpful. Thanks ever so much. That was quite illuminating.

I bring out the children's book "Encounter" by Jane Yolen- which we read, and re-read at this time of year. Being an early childhood person, I tend not to answer my daughter's questions with the same cut and dry responses my husband uses. I want to engage her thought process and get her to think critically. Terrance thinks that this is a bullshit approach.

So we talk about what the experience of the Native People's must have been like. That discovery isn't the same when you discover something that belongs to someone else. It would be like me walking into her room and "discovering" her Playmobil house and claiming it as my own. Not very heroic.

"That's stealing.", she says.
"Yes it is, honey. That's why daddy and I are uncomfortable with Columbus Day. He may have been very adventurous to sail over the ocean to find and see new things- but he was very unkind to the people he found living there already."

And Emily - as always - absorbs this information to the best of her ability. And says

"Can I stay up late and eat popcorn?"

Fight the power, honey, fight the power.

13 Baleful Regards:

Suniverse said...

My daughter, at 10, has taken to reading Lies My Teacher Told Me and then telling all her friends about it in our VERY conservative town. It cracks me up to hear her tell her friends and their parents about the BS that history teaches us (or, as she puts it, "THEY ALL LIE! ALL THE TIME!").

And then she wants to play Neopets. So it evens out.

E. said...

When my preschool-aged son hears it's a holiday, his first thought is "treats." They must've said something about Columbus day at his school, b/c today he wants to know if we can celebrate it by baking a cake. "It's not really that kind of holiday, honey," was the best I could do in a pinch. But maybe I'll check out the Jane Yolen book and we can do more with that teachable moment next year.

Anonymous said...

OMG I love you. We have "Lies" and "Encounters" also. When my youngest asked why we had a day off from school today my oldest went off on a anti-Columbus rant. "The bullshit approach" that is exactly what Roy thinks of mine as well, but to them I say, "In your face" because it works.

SUEB0B said...

You clearly don't get it. God WANTED the Europeans to come here and oppress the natives. Duh.

Odile said...

Thank you for the book tip, we'll definitely check it out (my son is supposed to be studying explorers later on this year, and we have been over the concept of "discovery" with him)
You know, I did not even realize yesterday was Columbus day. At my son's school, the reason given for the day off was "Teachers Workshop Day".

Lisa said...

You know, my son's school didn't even mention or celebrate COlumbus Day. I didn't even THINK about that until reading your post.

Sounds like you have some interesting reads at your house.

Anonymous said...

Taking on "the man" is so much easier with a belly full of Newman's Own Popcorn. It has helped me through many a tough time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the book recommendations. This is the parenting stuff I REALLY need to know about.

Jaelithe said...

Will definitely have to check out that Encounter book.

I am still trying to get my three-year-old to understand the difference between Indians from India and Native Americans. As in, "Yes, Mommy speaks a little bit of Hindi like the Indians from India, but Mommy's not part Indian from India, she is part Indian from America. Mommy's grandpas were both Indians from America, who weren't actually Indians-- a confused Italian dude called them that when he met them, and it sorta stuck. Not that this confused Italian dude met Mommy's grandpas-- that was earlier-- I mean--"

Anonymous said...

Columbus sucked. You rock.

Anonymous said...

I am also with you well on the left. Unfortunately, TheWife is more of a "centrist" which makes for some interesting conversations.

That being said, I think something is a bit off here. While Columbus "discovered" America, he thought it was India (thus "Indians"). It wasn't until much later until the "oppression" began. I mean I guess you can blame Columbus for showing the Pilgrims that they could actually get here, but that would be about it. (As I see it)

Dawn said...

Jay - while it is true that Columbus thought that he had found the eastern route to India - he was quite the kidnapper and pillager of the native peoples he found - Not only in the first journey ( where he apparently took most of the inhabitants of the island BACK to Spain with him) but on his subsequent voyages when he returned with gold, spices and other goods. He was - as many explorers - a man of business.

While he did nothing out of the ordinary for the time and culture in which he was situated ( dominance of white, European, catholic) I think it is important to consider that there are always two sides to history - and that the "losers" are nearly never heard, or celebrated.. Part of the American "creation myth" is this idea of manifest destiny. God wanted us to dominate - and Always wanted us to dominate

SuperP. said...

I am a very left wing Christian. If that makes any sense. lol! And, my daughter attends a Christian school and goes to an evangelical sunday school and we live in a very conservative redneck part of the world.. let me tell you.. do I ever know what you mean. lol!

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