July 07, 2008

The NEW Racism: Picky Eating

A government-sponsored organization (organisation) in the UK now says that picky-eating toddlers may be "exhibiting racist behaviours" bt refusing to eat or saying 'yuck' to flavorful foreign foods. A daily Telegraph article says:

" The 366-page guide for staff in charge of pre-school children, called Young Children and Racial Justice, warns: "Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships."

It advises nursery teachers to be on the alert for childish abuse such as: "blackie", "Pakis", "those people" or "they smell".

The guide goes on to warn that children might also "react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying 'yuk'".

Staff are told: "No racist incident should be ignored. When there is a clear racist incident, it is necessary to be specific in condemning the action."

OFCS*. Are you KIDDING ME??? A three year old says "yuk" to spicy food and automatically they're considered little KKK-wannabes?? Some of those words, sure, those are clearly racist, but even then it goes a bit too far to suggest that a TODDLER has malice in their heart for a specific group of people.

If a three year old hears a group of people called "apples" or "chairs" they'll use that word just the same as if it was (as mentioned above) "blackies" or "pakis". All they understand is the LABEL, if that. They are incapable of attaching racist meaning to it at that age because they are incapable of understanding (in an adult sense) what race is.

Furthermore, I find it highly unlikely that a toddler can associate foods with races. Oh, I don't like curry because THEY eat it, where they is some other group.

As for the other labels mentioned in the article "those people" is a way that small children break down the world. These people vs those people, us vs them. It's an easy way for their young brain to learn to classify people and things, to sort out their environment and make sense of everything around them. It's not evil. It's not denigrating, it's just a baby brain learning to work.

I think my favorite of the report's objections, and the one that best demonstrates nanny-ism run amok, though, is "they smell."

Let's face it, small children are absurdly honest and have no politeness filter. they say what's on their mind. Including that some people smell funny to them. It's clear that different cultures come from homes that smell differently. Some burn incense or use flavorful, aromatic spices in daily cooking. To a toddler unused to those smells, someone who comes from that environment WOULD smell funny. Again, not racist, just honest.

The bottom line here is that kids are kids. They are simple, funny, honest, and open. Because they haven't learned how to be polite or appropriate yet. They don't understand that what they say can hurt. And frankly, if a toddler wants to insult you, they're more likely to say "poopyhead" than "blackie" or "paki". A kid who is rude or insulting should be dealt with, but not as an incipient racist. They should be disciplined accordingly, and taught that ALL rudeness and insult is unacceptable, including racism. We should explain why it's not nice to say that another child smells funny without pointing fingers and shouting accusations.

This report, in sum, says a WHOLE LOT MORE to me about the agenda of the authors than the intent of the toddlers.

This whole debate about racism and children is funny to me. Children today are so unaware of racism. They get their ideas about it from what WE (the ADULTS) project on to them. Kids are blissfully unaware of race problems until we tell them that they should be experiencing them.

This brought to mind a more local story. Charter Oak High School in Covina recently discovered that parodic African-American sounding names ("Tay Tay Shaniqua," "Crisphy Nanos" and "Laquan White") were printed in the yearbook under a picture of the Black Student Union, apparently as a racist joke.

I can't help but wonder if the motivation was really racist in nature or just bad taste, and a joke gone sadly awry. Do teenagers really harbor the kind of overt racist feelings implied by these actions? Was it entirely about race? Or were they just making fun of some kids they didn't like, by badly ripping off certain black comedians?

The community is up in arms and the parents are demanding action, but I have to wonder if we're missing something. Are our kids racist? Did WE make them that way? If not, why do they do and say racist things? Is it because they are SO OVER racism, that it CAN be a joke for them. Wouldn't that be considered a good thing?

It's like that classic South Park Question: How long does it have to be with us before AIDS is funny? When can we laugh? Can we EVER laugh about racism? And if we do, who gets to laugh? The opressed? The reformed opressor? The subsequent, non-racist generations? When does it get to be OK? For whom?

*Oh For Christ's Sake!

Posted by caltechgirl at July 7, 2008 11:39 AM | TrackBack

::shakes head, walks away::

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at July 7, 2008 12:39 PM

Freakin nuts! My son doesn't like soda because he thinks it's "spicy" (ie: carbonated). Somehow this would translate into racism over there? Freakin nuts.

Posted by: Marie at July 7, 2008 03:44 PM

Geez...kids this age, and even a few years older, are usually the most unracist beings if society just leaves them alone.

It's like saying 'don't look at that'...of course, that's what you'll do.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at July 7, 2008 07:20 PM

My kids eat totally differently. Tater loves bland food and doesn't like spicy... and Tot likes the spicy stuff and doesn't like the bland... what does that make my kids? Sigh. You are right about kids being totally honest. Heck, Tater just recently looked at a doctor in the office and asked if he was in the sun too much. He thought it was Dr. B (his doctor we were going to see) and it was a black doctor in the office. We all (including the black doctor) had a great laugh about it as I was explaining that was Dr. R and NOT Dr. B.

Posted by: vw bug at July 8, 2008 04:31 AM

I have a dear friend, a British woman in her late 80s, who lived through the Blitz and all...and she says, sadly, she's never going back to her homeland again.


Because it's "not Britain" any more. Things like this - the kind of insane, self-hating searching for reasons to tar even CHILDREN with the brush of "racist." And all the governmental control. (In Scotland, they are contemplating taking overweight children away from their parents...because apparently, allowing your kid to get even a little fat is evidence of child abuse).

I shudder to think of that kind of crap coming here.

I was an enormously picky eater as a child. Still am. I cannot tolerate "hot" foods (they give me indigestion). I do not like broccoli or cauliflower. Carrots actually do not agree with me. Under the New World Order, would I be required to eat all these things - even if they sicken me - to prove my "worth" as a "right-thinking" person?


Posted by: ricki at July 8, 2008 05:21 AM



Posted by: Ken S, Fifth String on the Banjo of Life at July 8, 2008 08:57 AM

Excellent points, caltechgirl. I stink like garlic, and I don't mind that most people prefer to keep their distance.

Bit oddly, the toddlers love me!

People need to use the gray matter between their ears once in awhile, if only for special occasions.

Posted by: Miss Havisham at July 8, 2008 11:29 AM

I hate to sound like a racist but... THEY DO SMELL. Curry does not belong in everything. It eventually comes out of their pores and it is NASTY. I walked into our school office (before school ended) and was hit in the face with the strongest CURRY I had ever experienced. There was a mother with two children in the room. Now this office is quite large. I looked at the secretary and said WOW! She responded with and they have been here 1/2 hour.

I sometimes wonder if they realize just how badly they smell. Maybe our kids should be honest. We teach them lying at a very young age. We can't handle the truth.

Posted by: Lukie at July 9, 2008 01:59 PM

My oldest won't eat hotdogs. Does that mean I need to worry that he harbors some hidden hatred for Americans?


Posted by: Jenna at July 10, 2008 08:28 AM

The UK is in desperate need of another revolution. The good people need to rise up and throw these nannying, ultra-liberal governmental fools in the ocean and start over. What they are going through is only a couple steps shy of full-blown communism. Hell, over there you can't even DEFEND yourself or your family from criminals without getting arrested. Something is seriously wrong with a society when they've gotten to this point.

Which is why we need to focus carefully on our next election. If we let the wrong people in power, or allow the wrong people to sit on the Supreme Court, such things could happen here. Remember, we just missed by ONE VOTE having the Second Amendment of our Constitution completely gutted. That one was too close for my comfort.

Oh yeah, my wife can attest to the curry smell. Her job requires shuttling students around the Georgia Tech campus. Many of these students are foreigners and she says a vanload of curry-stinking college students can make things pretty rancid for her.

Posted by: diamond dave at July 11, 2008 10:13 AM

What if a pakistani child doesn't want to eat their roast beef lunch?

I suspect that what the writers of the report were really wanting to say was, when kids express these opinions, they may well be expressing the racist opinions of their parents. ie. they are being taught to be racist.

but to say THAT in so many words would be an un-pc thing to say about the stereotypical lower-middle or working-class white parents.

caught between a rock and a hard place, those government writers.

Posted by: mom, again at July 16, 2008 12:25 PM

That is such a good point that kids today may be so OVER racism that it can be joked about. I'm white, but one of my dearest friends is black, and our kids are together constantly. Once at her house, I was trying to get the kids into the car, then she and I fell to chatting again, so in a few minutes not only my kids but hers were in my van. Finally it was time to go and I was trying to end up with the right ones to take home, so my then 8yo son bellowed: "Everyone with brown skin, get OUT of the van!" My friend and I looked at each other and started laughing. Not something *I* would ever say, but to my son mentioning the fact that they are darker than we is just like remarking on different color eyes: a simple true fact. I was delighted with the implications.

Posted by: carma at July 16, 2008 12:42 PM