Child, Florida Citizens Alliance, Naples, FL

Memories of Classroom Division

Memories of Classroom Division

Today, it is becoming more and more common to hear stories of students who are separated into groups based on their level of “privilege”, whether by race, gender, sexuality, religion, or who knows what else.

By Cassie Moran

Date: March 17, 2021

Every year at my elementary school, we celebrated Black History Month. We learned about notable African Americans, from Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King Jr. and many more. We also learned about the hard truths of our American history, from slavery to Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan. Of course, this had horrified me. I had never seen or experienced a world where people were discriminated against because of the color of their skin. It was a good and appropriate lesson that taught us tragic lessons about our country’s history and made us grateful for our present and the progress our country had made.

But one year, my teacher took it further. We were learning about Rosa Parks and she pointed out who in the class would have been allowed to sit at the front of the bus and who would have been restricted to the back, including herself. Although I do not remember her exact words, I recall her creating an “us” ingroup and “them” outgroup. I remember a strange sense of shame being induced, though at the time I could not completely explain it. Why was I being categorized with those complicit — or worse, those enforcing — such atrocities?

As far as I can remember, this was thankfully a pretty isolated incident. But today, it is becoming more and more common to hear stories of students who are separated into groups based on their level of “privilege”, whether by race, gender, sexuality, religion, or who knows what else. Kids who grow up constantly being told they are privileged or oppressed by certain traits might not have the ability to use reason against an adult authority figure to disprove these claims, and if they are told enough times, they may just start to believe it. Don’t define children by these accidental traits. And do not define kids by the actions of people in the past.

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