Kids aren't racist, schools are
Luther "Luke" Campbell, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke addresses the absence of bigotry in children.
When I drop my 2-year-old son off at day care, I am so amazed at how all the babies and toddlers just love being around each other. They don't care or understand which one of them is Haitian, African-American, Hispanic, or Martian. They're all happy when they see each other in the morning and cry when one leaves in the afternoon. At that age, children aren't picking up on their parents' prejudices.
But by the time the toddlers are old enough to attend elementary school, they learn to dislike others based on their skin color, ethnicity, or gender. It starts at home, where kids overhear their parents talking bad about Hialeah's Hispanics or Liberty City's African-Americans or Aventura's various ethnicities. Once children hear something negative about a place or a group of people, they hold onto the stereotype until someone corrects them.
Unfortunately, we can't expect the public school system to bring diversity into the classrooms because our population is so ghettoized. In Miami-Dade, Hispanics now represent 65 percent of the student population, five more points than in 2005. African-Americans are 24 percent, and Anglo students account for only 8 percent.
Look at specific schools. Most are painfully monochromatic. For example, when Miami Edison Senior High opened in the '20s, the student body was predominantly white. The school is now 90 percent black and 10 percent Hispanic. Virtually no non-Hispanic white kids go there, even though Edison is a zoned high school for Miami Shores, where almost half the residents are white non-Hispanics.
Charter schools are even worse. Last year, the Civil Rights Project at UCLA found that charter schools are "havens for white flight."
Under these circumstances, it's no wonder Miami's various ethnic groups have such a hard time understanding and trusting each other. So until I have to send my boy Blake to kindergarten, I'll keep relishing his racism-free life at his kiddie academy where all the children are having a ball.
If only the adult world could be like that.
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