Monthly Archives: November 2014

Preschool at Thanksgiving: Paste, Paint and Cultural Appropriation

I recently visited my daughter’s preschool for their annual Thanksgiving luncheon. I breathed a sigh of relief when I walked into find her wearing a pilgrim hat. As I drove over that morning, I kept picturing what I would do if I walked in to find her wearing some terrible rendering of a native headdress. Suffice it to say that I was not pleased when we met up with the older class next door to find them not only wearing their crafty version of headdresses but also war paint.

I understand that at 4 years old they may not be ready to hear the unsanitized version of the discovery and colonization of America. I know they will read the warm fuzzy stories of breaking bread together. I just wish people would understand that painting war paint on a child and pasting feathers on a paper cut out to represent something that has incredible meaning for a group of people is not a great way to celebrate unity.

Let’s take a moment to teach children about different cultures rather than picking one, trite depiction and thinking that is “multicultural education”.

I am trying to figure out the best way to address this with the school. I know there are some who would tell me to get over it, but I feel committed to doing not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because let me tell you that if next year that is my child, we will promptly march to the restroom to wash it off.  I want to be a parent who lives my values even when it means pushing my own comfort level to do so.