Is it that my grandfathers, my father and my husband all served to protect our freedoms as Americans? That I recognize what the American Flag stands for? That I hope my children recognize the freedoms others have fought so hard for …
“California Students Sent Home for Wearing U.S. Flags on Cinco de Mayo“
I’ll admit: I don’t think I have a trace of Mexican in me. I am a melting pot of ethnicity from generations gone back, but Mexican … I don’t think it is in there. HOWEVER, we still had our fun at dinner time last night and enjoyed Tacos, one of my boys’ favorite foods, in honor of ‘Cinco de Mayo’. (I would have loved a margarita… but BabyBoy *L*, 6 months in the womb, said “No, Thank You”.) Around our house we talk about different cultures when they come up. I love watching my boys interact with kids their own age, as well as adults, that are different then they are. Black, Hispanic, Girls, non-Christian, new kids in the classroom, even folks with a southern-drawl. [I HAD that drawl when I was *E*s age ;)] All of this describes someone they are not. YET, someone they can learn from and someone they can teach.
That is a major advantage I had as an Air Force Brat. You want to talk about diversity! Walk into a DoD’s school. Or a school around a military-base. You have the “rich” and the “poor” (ok I was an officer’s-brat … and I would hardly call us rich… but I realize that was the stigma). You have white / black / islanders with no clear “there are more of ‘us’ then ‘you'”. We were all just ‘brats’, with different histories, different home-lives but all with a sense of pride. We were all ‘dandelions‘ as one of my favorite pieces about military-children goes.
So back to my point…
These kids in California yesterday, on what should be a day of FUN LEARNING about another culture were sent home because they had American Flags on their shirts. I get the bandanas… they aren’t allowed . I get that maybe the flags (the Mexican-ones included!) could cause an unnecessary ‘division’ if the school is faced with gangs. But where was the teachable moment? Where was the moment of we are in America, you can wear your flag and show your pride; these folks over here with the Mexican flags painted on their face, that is their heritage and we can respect that. However, we are all Americans going to an American school with a rich history of cultures.
I find it a little more then sad that the school-administrators picked out the kids with the American shirts and said – YOU, change so that we don’t cause friction with other students.
I’ll leave you with this thought from one of the Mexican-Americans at this high school: “I think they [the boys wearing the American Shirts] should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day,” Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. “We don’t deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn’t do that on Fourth of July.” (http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local-beat/Students-Wearing-American-Flag-Shirts-Sent-Home-92945969.html). I guess that is what she ‘learned’ that day, I hope her administrators are ‘proud’. (Insert snide snort.) I can only hope that others came home with a different story of cultural-engagement. What are you teaching your kids?