Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Is this man "African-American"?

Not according to many of my black middle school students. Because today is Super Tuesday, I dedicated the first half of each period with my 8th graders to talking about the Primary/Caucus process. By the way, for future reference, when teaching students about this process, just use the word primary and forget caucus, because giggles abound due to the "cock" sound in caucus. Sometimes, I really can't stand my students.

Inevitably, my students wanted to have a mock vote to see who they supported for president, and overwhelmingly, in every one of my 8th grade periods, my students supported Barack Obama for president. When I needled them a little bit by asking for reasons why they supported him, it quickly became apparent that they were pulling for Obama simply because he is black.

Naturally, I turned it around on them. I asked them how they would feel if I told them that I was supporting McCain or Romney simply because they were white. In a classic case of cognitive dissonance, my Obama supporters didn't like my white-based support scenario very much, but they remained unapologetic about supporting Obama based solely on the color of his skin. They see it as an opportunity to "stick it to the man."

Things really got interesting when some of my black students turned on some of my black Obama-supporting students, not because the Obama supporters were pulling for him based only his skin color, but because to these other black students, Obama wasn't "black" enough. One girl insisted that Obama wasn't even "African-American." I couldn't let that one go. I asked her why she didn't consider him to be "African-American", and she told the class it was because his mother is "white." I told my students, "This is why I can't stand it when people use the term 'African-American' to describe someone's skin color." I walked over to the big world map on the back wall and continued, "Obama's father was from Kenya," I pointed to Kenya, "What continent is that on?" "Africa!" I then pointed to the United States and said, "This is where Obama's mother is from; she is American. Hence, that makes Obama... class?" "African-American!"

What was also amusing was when a bunch of girls favored Obama over Hillary Clinton because "Clinton is pro-abortion." "Well ladies," I said, "You best check Obama's position on that issue, because he believes the same way Clinton does." This is why kids their age are not allowed to vote. The problem is that there are adults out there who are undoubtedly just as clueless.

Good Day to You, Sir


Darren said...

Want something else to worry about? On the road from clueless middle school student to clueless adult comes clueless high school student--and those are the ones *I* get :-)

Don, American said...

. . . and yesterday they cluelessly voted. I can understand the "lesser of two evils" mentality, but what about being snookered by the gambling interests?