Cultural Revolutions

Thoughts on Brown People

A nine-year-old boy in Phoenix earned a three-day suspension from the Abraham Lincoln Traditional School for committing a “hate crime,” reports the Arizona Republic.  The boy reportedly used the phrase “brown people” while arguing with another student.  He was then questioned by a detention-room officer—the mother of the offended “brown person”—who demanded to know “why he didn’t want to cooperate with brown people.”  After incriminating himself by answering the leading question, the boy was forced to stand in front of the class and confess his sin.  The Arizona Republic reports, with a straight face, that this is his “second offense using the phrase.”

The real subject of the story, however, is not the virulent racism of this nine-year-old but the school’s principal, Virginia Voinovich.  In the parent-teacher conference that followed the incident, she admitted to having told the student that “in your heart you may have that feeling, and that is OK if that is your personal belief.”  She also told the boy’s mother, Sherry Neve, that parents give up disciplinary rights when they send their children to school, and if she didn’t approve, she could remove her son.  Neve promptly obliged, and she is outraged at the school’s treatment of the incident.  (The boy denies ever...

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