This might be the dumbest thing I'll hear this week. At least I hope it is.
Some kids at a school in California were accused of racism by their principal. Their crime? They wore American flag bandanas and shouted "U-S-A! U-S-A!" at a school sporting event.
According to the article linked above, the school superintendent for the area vowed to go after the students and aggressively educate them about the "concept of cultural proficiency."
Yeah. That's in there.
Apparently this went down at a school with a large "Hispanic-American" population, which could mean just about anything. (I've spoken about the label "Hispanic" before.) What really bugs me about this though is the fact that being pro-America IN AMERICA is deemed racist by someone in a position of power within the educational system. This is something that ought to concern everyone.
By definition, one cannot discriminate against a race by being pro-American. The United States of America comprise a country, not a race. Being American does not mean being just white or black or yellow or whatever. It's a national identity, not a racial one, and if you're part of that country, you're welcome to act as such.
E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. America is not meant to be predominately one race or another; we should all be equal in the eyes of the law, should we not? Yet there's a lot of political capital to be mined out of racial tension, authentic or otherwise. It's not helpful to anyone, and it ought to stop, starting with the superintendent who initially suspended these kids for being patriotic.
(Now, if they were doing it to be racially offensive, that's another issue entirely. The article's short, I recommend reading it.)
Teaching "cultural proficiency" is one thing. Being an outright jackass is something else, and that goes for both sides of the equation. We're all supposed to be Americans. There's no law requiring you to cast off your ties to your previous homeland when you come here, and there's no problem with being proud of where you came from, but when you come here you become part of the whole. You're one of the many, integrating into the American identity.
And you can't unite three hundred million people by driving wedges in between every group and labeling them as "Such-and-such-American" or "So-and-so-American." Like Teddy Roosevelt said, there's nothing constructive in being a hyphenated-American. (Paraphrasing.)
I dare say that a significant portion of the social tensions that have festered in this country in the last ten years are a result of this emphasis on our differences--this amplified focus on "cultural proficiency," which sounds great on paper, but isn't really accomplishing its own objective. There's got to be a better way than how we're currently going about it.
And there are at least four high school kids in California that can tell you how well it's working out so far.