TruthOut - It is the third week of classes at P.S. 130, The Parkside School in Brooklyn, New York. A group of fourth graders sits on the floor, watching five others — a mix of nine and 10-year-olds from other classes in the school — take seats in front of the room.
Emma Gonzalez, a group facilitator from The Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, gets the ball rolling by introducing the theme, respect for difference. “We are all different in many ways but we need to live together respectfully," she begins.
A quick survey of where the students or their parents are from hammers the point: Albania, Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Puerto Rico, Trinidad. “This diversity makes the world very rich,” Gonzalez continues. “Imagine a world where we were all the same. That would be boring.”
Heads nod as Gonzalez tells the assembled students that the children in front of them are going to describe how they’ve been hurt by racial or religious prejudice.
Ibrahim begins. “I was in Burger King and this lady came up to my sister and asked where we were from. She told her Egypt and the lady said, ‘You should tell your parents to convert to Catholic.’ That made me mad.”
Another boy describes being made fun of for speaking Arabic. Then Ivette takes a deep breath and shakily tells the group about an incident in the lunchroom. “This boy came up to me and said, ‘People from Jamaica are stupid. I hate your culture and I hate you.’” Read more.