Jay’s teacher sent a note home last week asking for donations of tattered clothes and blankets for use as costumes. Her plan: have the kindergarteners perform a skit wherein they dress as slaves and re-enact escaping from slavery through the Underground Railroad.
Eeek. This whole thing would have slipped past me had another parent not brought it to my attention last Thursday. Sometimes, there is so much information that comes home with the kids that I simply focus on the homework and disregard all the other information. #parentingfail
Hubby and I talked about the teacher’s request and the skit, and I thought about it over the weekend. Finally, I sent a polite email to the teacher and the school principal saying that I had misgivings about the children portraying slaves. One can certainly learn about slavery without acting like a slave. I informed them that Hubby and I were not going to allow Jay to portray a slave. Other parents voiced their concerns as well in a reasoned, articulate manner (from what I can tell).
The teacher sent an apology email yesterday and explained that she had not intended to be insensitive. Her intent was to use the skit to celebrate freedom and human dignity. I believe her. And, for all I know, Mae participated in the same skit when she had this same teacher in kindergarten three years ago without Hubby and I realizing it. We didn’t attend the Black History Month Celebration back then. #parentingfail
As it turns out, Teacher has been out sick for over a week and has been unable to fully prepare the kids. So, the skit is canceled anyway. I’d like to think that she would have deferred to the judgment of the parents and canceled the skit based on our concerns. Slavery is an emotional subject still for a lot of people, and too complex for children so young to understand what weight their parents might feel from seeing them pretending to be slaves. Even with an African-American in the White House and other outstanding accomplishments in every area of life, we’re not there yet.