The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

November 12, 2009

Oh, West Hartford. What am I ever going to do with you?

I don’t want to be one of those needlessly meddling parents nor one of those intolerably preachy, relentlessly political people who think everything is offensive, but . . .


Above is a letter that came home today from Max’s kindergarten, alerting us to the upcoming Colonial Day festivities. Parents are encouraged to dress their children in a “Colonial Costume,” but are cautioned parenthetically, “not Indian.” Um, right. So can we dress him up as smallpox? As a slave?

I know that historical nuance, like all other kinds of nuance, is lost on five-year-olds. I realize that there is limited utility in delving too deeply at this point into the complicated and morally ambiguous underpinnings of the white settlement of the Americas. And I am not going to dress my child as some other crucial player in the colonization of North America just to make a point. But this doesn’t sit right with me. Why no Indians?

Am I overreacting on this one, Internets?


6 Responses to “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie”

  1. On your tweet on this subject, I wondered that same thing (not slaves or smallpox, but why not Indians).

  2. fatbo said

    indians aren’t even from the same continent. they’d be totally inappropriate.

  3. El Prez said

    @fatbo I wonder how the family of the one student in the class of East Indian extraction feels about this, actually.

  4. Ken K. said

    It wouldn’t be fair to dress him up like a turkey, so why not dress him up as King James I? Or better yet, get him a Guy Fawkes mask – I mean, there is a logical connection to the 1605 gunpowder plot and the religious intolerance in England that drove the Puritans to the “Promised Land”?

    Have some fun with kindergarten?

    Teach Max “Remember remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot, I see no reason the fifth of November should ever be forgot?”

  5. Alice said

    You are not over-reacting. It’s 2009. You’d think they’d fuckin’ get it by now.

  6. Heather B said

    Are they even bothering to take a look at native culture in the same time period? Why do this at all, from just the one point of view?

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