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Thread: Claremont, California parents clash over kindergarten Thanksgiving costumes

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Question Claremont, California parents clash over kindergarten Thanksgiving costumes

    (Yup, it's probably what you guessed it was, lol)

    Claremont parents clash over kindergarten Thanksgiving costumes - Los Angeles Times


    Condit Elementary School parents including Lynette Struve and Andrew Loeffler, wearing a headdress, gathered in support of their children's right to wear traditional Thanksgiving costumes. The school will hold its annual event without the children dressed in costume.


    Some say having students dress up as pilgrims and Native Americans is 'demeaning.' Their opponents say they are elitists injecting politics into a simple children's celebration.
    By Seema Mehta
    November 25, 2008


    For decades, Claremont kindergartners have celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as pilgrims and Native Americans and sharing a feast. But on Tuesday, when the youngsters meet for their turkey and songs, they won't be wearing their hand-made bonnets, headdresses and fringed vests.

    Parents in this quiet university town are sharply divided over what these construction-paper symbols represent: A simple child's depiction of the traditional (if not wholly accurate) tale of two factions setting aside their differences to give thanks over a shared meal? Or a cartoonish stereotype that would never be allowed of other racial, ethnic or religious groups?




    "It's demeaning," Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, wrote to her daughter's teacher. "I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history."

    Raheja, whose mother is a Seneca, wrote the letter upon hearing of a four-decade district tradition, where kindergartners at Condit and Mountain View elementary schools take annual turns dressing up and visiting the other school for a Thanksgiving feast. This year, the Mountain View children would have dressed as Native Americans and walked to Condit, whose students would have dressed as Pilgrims.

    Raheja, an English professor at UC Riverside who specializes in Native American literature, said she met with teachers and administrators in hopes that the district could hold a public forum to discuss alternatives that celebrate thankfulness without "dehumanizing" her daughter's ancestry.


    "There is nothing to be served by dressing up as a racist stereotype," she said.

    Last week, rumors began to circulate on both campuses that the district was planning to cancel the event, and infuriated parents argued over the matter at a heated school board meeting Thursday. District Supt. David Cash announced at the end of the meeting that the two schools had tentatively decided to hold the event without the costumes, and sent a memo to parents Friday confirming the decision.

    Cash and the principals of Condit and Mountain View did not respond to interview requests.

    But many parents, who are convinced the decision was made before the board meeting, accused administrators of bowing to political correctness.

    Kathleen Lucas, a Condit parent who is of Choctaw heritage, said her son -- now a first-grader -- still wears the vest and feathered headband he made last year to celebrate the holiday.

    "My son was so proud," she said. "In his eyes, he thinks that's what it looks like to be Indian."

    Among the costume supporters, there is a vein of suspicion that casts Raheja and others opposed to the costumes as agenda-driven elitists. Of the handful of others who spoke with Raheja against the costumes at the board meeting, one teaches at the University of Redlands, one is an instructor at Riverside Community College, and one is a former Pitzer College professor.

    Raheja is "using those children as a political platform for herself and her ideas," Constance Garabedian said as her 5-year-old Mountain View kindergartner happily practiced a song about Native Americans in the background. "I'm not a professor and I'm not a historian, but I can put the dots together."

    The debate is far from over. Some parents plan to send their children to school in costume Tuesday -- doubting that administrators will force them to take them off. The following day, some plan to keep their children home, costing the district attendance funds to punish them for modifying the event.

    "She's not going to tell us what we can and cannot wear," said Dena Murphy, whose 5-year-old son attends Mountain View. "We're tired of [district officials] cowing down to people. It's not right."

    But others hoped that tempers would calm over the long holiday weekend, and the community could come together to have a fruitful discussion about Thanksgiving and its meaning.

    "Its always a good thing to think about, critically, how we teach kids, even from very young ages, the message we want them to learn, and the respect for the diversity of the American experiences," said Jennifer Tilton, an assistant professor of race and ethnic studies at the University of Redlands and a Claremont parent who opposes the costumes.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    People will not be happy until they suck every ounce of joy out childhood. STFU.
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    Elite Member DeadDwarf's Avatar
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    Yeah, we dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians (how un PC of me....) in kindergarten and that was so much fun!!! We had Thanksgiving at school and did art projects. I was 5 and I still remember how much fun it was.

    Really, STFU people!!!

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    i'm sick of PC peeps.
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    Elite Member L1049's Avatar
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    I'm glad we never had to dress up for Thanksgiving in elementary school (Canadian thanksgiving).

    We just made shit loads of turkey stuff.

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    Elite Member angelais's Avatar
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    My 5 year old son came home yesterday with an Indian head band thingie he made in school - complete with feathers. Surprised someone didn't raise a fuss about it.

    Of course the couldn't celebrate Halloween at school, they had a "Fall Festival Celebration." Whatever.
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    Elite Member DeadDwarf's Avatar
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    ^ Well, it was optional at my school because we would have Jehovah Witnesses and such in our classes. So not everyone dressed up at our Thanksgiving party.

    Dressing up was the fun of it though, it's like dressing up for Halloween. Kids love it. You get your little costume on, you eat turkey and make corn bread and sing songs. Shit like that, it's FUN for kids!!!

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    I agree with whoever said that people like this just will not be satisfied until they take all the fun out of being a kid. I can't imagine growing up these days knowing that I would not have been able to experience the Halloween,Thanksgiving,Christmas and Valentines day parties we had. These pc whiners need to stfu.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Little people love dressing up in whatever-they don't care what the "true meaning" is,and I don't blame them. I don't even care if they celebrate every religious holidays-just let them celebrate! They have to deal with reality soon enough.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member L1049's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadDwarf View Post
    ^ Well, it was optional at my school because we would have Jehovah Witnesses and such in our classes. So not everyone dressed up at our Thanksgiving party.

    Dressing up was the fun of it though, it's like dressing up for Halloween. Kids love it. You get your little costume on, you eat turkey and make corn bread and sing songs. Shit like that, it's FUN for kids!!!
    The whole concept of religion interfering with elementary school/middle school festivities and curriculum is totally foreign to me. I've lived in Chilliwack all my life and it's pretty heavily religious, yet none of these issues have come up at all.

    In elementary school (it was a small school), staring in December there would be a big Christmas tree in the "courtyard." The primary grades (K-3) would sing carols first thing in the morning, than the intermediate grades (4-6) would do it. There was one kid (and I think he had a younger sister) who was a Jehovah's Witness in grade 6, who would simply either wait in the classroom or show up to class 15 minutes later (after the singing).
    His parents didn't push the school to stop the singing, holiday stuff, etc. They just asked if he could opt out and do something else for credit. Simple.
    There was also a large Native population at our school since there was a reserve 5 minutes away. There was no big deal if we did do those lil Indian headband things either. This wasn't even too long ago (I graduated elementary school in 2000)

    I just don't get how something like this is such a big deal. Some people blow things way out of proportion. Like I said, these sort of debates are so foreign/strange to me.

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    I think I'd be more concerned that my children's elementary school is named after a dodgy congressman whose involvement in the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful young female intern has never fully been explained.
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    "There is nothing to be served by dressing up as a racist stereotype,"
    Are they serious? How is it a racist stereotype to have kids dress up as Pilgrims and Indians? What next, kids can't play Cowboys and Indians because it's demeaning? My grandmother was an Indian and I don't see anything racist about it. Gimme a break.

    Once again, political correctness has become the beast that won't die.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    couldnt celebrate halloween? wtf?

    why, do christians think it'll summon the devil or something?

    God, grow the fuck up retards.
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    Are they serious? How is it a racist stereotype to have kids dress up as Pilgrims and Indians? What next, kids can't play Cowboys and Indians because it's demeaning? My grandmother was an Indian and I don't see anything racist about it. Gimme a break.

    Once again, political correctness has become the beast that won't die.
    *tries to picture King as Indian hunk in feathers and beads. Swoons.*
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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