Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Be a Light Unto the Nations

On Friday, Viva came home with a notice in her backpack that International Day will be held on April 24th. Oh, how nice – what a great opportunity for the kids to learn about different cultures, etc. In the past, students at her school have been given the option of wearing traditional dress or bringing traditional food if they choose.

But not this year. This year, the school is having an International Talent Show and requiring kids to participate in it. The school is also requiring a monetary donation of $10 per kid. The school is also requiring each kid to bring a dish from their "home country." The school also wants parents to donate cultural items to a “mini-museum,” and wants parents to participate both in the talent show and the all-day events. What the fizzle?

[Commence rant.] If you are African-American, this whole thing is just annoying. First of all, what country are we to choose? Sweet Dub says, “America. She is American. Send some damn apple pie.”

I say, to be even more obnoxious, “She allegedly has Cherokee on both sides. Maybe I should send some cornbread. Or maybe I’ll send some maize.”

I’m not up on the AIM doings, but I do know that the Cherokee are a separate nation. Why not claim that as our country?

I have no idea which country or countries in Africa we hail from. I also have no idea which country or countries in Europe we hail from. I’ve heard rumors of Spanish descent on my side, and the Blah Blahs’ family surnames are all English or Irish in origin, but as we all know, that doesn’t mean we are necessarily related to the people who gave us those surnames. I’m Cherokee on my dad’s side and Gingaskin on my mom’s (the Gingaskin are actually a tri-racial tribe from the eastern shore of Virginia). Since the Gingaskins were terminated as a tribe by being absorbed as free “mulatto” or “colored” folk on the census rolls back in the day, I really have no idea what food they ate. Nor were they ever recognized as a separate nation, never mind one of the Five Civilized Tribes who are way more well-documented.

Don’t even get me started on the talent show.

Nonetheless, I think this is a good opportunity to talk with Viva about her heritage and appreciation for all the different peoples that make up the world. And I’m sure she’ll learn something. The question is, what can we teach her classmates about her nation?

Weigh in. I’m interested to hear what you think.

P.S. Can I also just say that I find it annoying that the school is having International Day during the same week as Earth Day? And yet they have no Earth Day events planned. Why choose a random day to celebrate when you have an internationally-recognized eco-conscious day already on the calendar? Save the earth or there will be no nations. For heaven’s sake!


Molly said...

My oldest is doing a report and presentation on her heritage as well. (She's in 4th grade.) I'm finding the whole thing very difficult as well. None of us are "fresh off the boat" these days. We have Irish, French, German, American Indian, with a few other things thrown in on my side alone. Then throw in my husband's side and we're adding some Cuban in and who knows what else. But both sides are pretty heavy with French, so that's what we're going with. But I feel like it doesn't really begin to really show who she is. Nobody has come over from France in our family for many generations. Whatever. Like you said, I'm sure she'll learn something, it just might not really be about her!

bridget in oregon said...

Man, that's a lot of "requirements". Sometimes I wonder what the h*ll school administrators are thinking. Can you tell I even hate the all time classic "Science Fair"?

I'm with Sweet Dub. Send a damn apple pie. (What a great line, btw! I love it.)

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Molly: Oooh, does she have to bring French food as well? I am so all over that. At Viva's school, many of the kids are from immigrant families (I would say roughly one-third) - mostly from Asian (Korean, Japanese) and South Asian (India, Pakistan) countries. There's also a decent number of kids from the Middle East, Africa (Nigerian and Ethiopia), and of course Central and South America. The diversity of the population is one reason I chose this school in the first place. I hope Viva does learn something about the kids she goes to school with - how much it will actually mean to her is another question, just in terms of how much will stick.

bridget: Yeah, you said it. Oh my God, I fear and dread the Science Fair.

Here is the problem: our picky eater. She doesn't like cornbread or apple pie. (I know, what kid doesn't like apple pie?!) She suggested I just send corn. Not even corn on the cob, just corn in a bowl. Oh my God.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

P.S. Excuse the typos in my last comment. I was typing too quickly.

Cee in SF said...

Lame. I'm hoping some apple pie was brought or the corn in a bowl.

What will the talent show consist of?

How can they forget Earth Day?

Lisa Blah Blah said...

cee: Apple pie, baby. Baked lovingly by Albertson's and bought at 6:30 this morning by my darling husband, who ran out to the store before leaving for work.

Evidently my little one (and 23 other kindergarteners) will be doing the Mexican hat dance at the talent show. Other grades will be performing other numbers from various countries. Who knows what.

How can they forget Earth Day? Um, because they're LAME.