Friday, January 18, 2008

how to breed a bigot

I just listened to a really disturbing story on one of my favorite podcast, Chicago’s Public Radio’s This American Life.

This episode, Shouting Across the Divide, explored the challenges/tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in the U.S. Act One: One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, detailed a story about Serry, an American-born Muslim and her husband, a Muslim raised on the West Bank. Theirs is an arranged marriage, and they led a loving and productive life with there three girls here in the States.

A year after Sept. 11, they began to feel the brunt of America’s raging Islamophobia. Their oldest daughter’s bigoted 4th grade teacher, took it upon herself to proselytize her Christian beliefs to her students. Everything seemed to spiral out of control as the Christmas holidays approached and this teacher passed out candy canes and explained this candy's shaped into the letter “J” for Jesus and the cane’s red color represented the blood of Jesus. She asked the class to pray for their Muslim classmate because she was going to hell unless the girl reputed her Muslim beliefs and claimed Jesus as her personal savior. Most of the students followed the teacher’s lead and ostracized Serry’s daughter, as well as her younger daughters who attended the same school.

This trauma devastated the family. Serry’s husband became depressed, eventually left the family and is planning to return the West Bank. In the end, the school did very little to protect the girls. The family sued the school, and the case was settled out of court.

I guess receiving some sort of monetary compensation for their pain and suffering is at least something, but this family aren’t the only victims, what about the children in this class who entered the 4th grade one way, but by the end of the school year, they’d become repositories of their teacher’s mean spirited and misguided beliefs.


Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

dang is al i can say..but it is the weekend of the MLK

Mes Deux Cents said...

Mango Mama,

I find it interesting and disturbing that when a minority group is attacked no other minority groups speak out against it.

It seems that if we, minority groups banded together and formed coalitions, we could make more headway against this sort of thing.

It angered me that after 9/11 no so-called Black leaders spoke out against racial and religious profiling of people who are either Arab or Arab appearing. Especially since African Americans are often the victim of profiling. Many seemed to be happy it wasn’t them.

And the same goes for other groups when we are attacked.

For instance why didn't Asian groups speak out against the "noose incident" in reference to Tiger Woods?

Melissa said...

"This American Life" is our favorite in this house. But I haven't heard this one. I'll have to download it.

This is a really horrible story to hear. School should be the place where children should be really, really safe. Always. While Serry's daughter got the brunt of it, all of the other children also were cheated by the teacher. As a parent of a child hearing this kind of propaganda in the classroom, I would be livid.

hathamama said...

I too listened to this story with a mix of rage at that public school and compassion for the family, especially the mother, who with dignity and love, guided this young woman through her horrifying experience.
All I can say is ... what the f*** kinda ignorant "teacher"/world would do such a thing to a child of God. I can only hope that our breath of love and light can somehow/someway nourish and raise the world to come from a place of love and light. Om, om, om.

Mango Mama said...

all-mi-t, It would be refreshing if everyone truly embraced the spirit of the man, but unfortunately, there's so many folks who simply have no clue as to their impact on our children. Thanks for stopping by.

MDC, You raise an excellent point, as always. It seems as if we continually fall for the divide and conquer okeydoke, as opposed to seeing our interconnectedness.

Melissa, I'm with you. Where's the communal outrage? How come no other families came to their defense? It's so disheartening.

Hathamama, Good to hear from you again! Of course we have no way of knowing, but I do hope this teacher h as been removed from the classroom. She's as reckless as a pedophile.

Ruth said...

I listened to this story with my jaw on the floor. How on earth did that teacher ever think what she was saying was o.k.? Like you and Melissa, I wondered where the communal outrage was. I was simply astounded at how far the abuse went, and how little, in the end, was done.

It made me really sad. Angry and sad.