In my last post I opened with a bit of a humble brag about my daughter’s ability to amuse herself for a time on weekend mornings, a few words about how I’d come to appreciate the ability to sleep past the first rays of sunshine a few days a week. Naturally this immediately came back to bite me in the ass, as only a few days after hitting publish I came downstairs to be greeted by this early morning surprise:
Was she trying out a new superhero look, emulating her favorite professional wrestler, or adding some camouflage before another attempt at scaring the crap out of me by hiding behind the computer desk?
Unfortunately, all no. She was trying to look like an “Indian Chief.”
The culprit for this episode of crass cultural appropriation was identified quickly, a Peter Pan book that we had read a few nights earlier. I had cringed at the time, set it aside for future “recycling” alongside a Skippyjon Jones book that I still can’t figure out if it is racist or not, and thought nothing more of it. Another reminder that not everything in the huge collection of hand me down and tag sale books that we have accumulated has aged particularly well.
I’ve always tried to be somewhat cautious in the degree of political correctness that I embrace. I think most of us will agree that it was a good idea that Speedy Gonzalez and the skunk running around Paris trying to rape the painted kitty were retired but I have a hard time taking seriously the idea that G I Joe furthered the agenda of the military industrial complex perpetuated by Reagan’s obsession with winning the Cold War. If the worst thing that our children are subjected to on a typical Saturday morning is the fat shaming of Daddy Pig by his family then I think that is progress that should be celebrated.
It made for an oddly difficult conversation, my attempts at explaining why we shouldn’t color our faces with permanent marker more successful than those trying to convince her that actual Native Americans might become upset about her pretending to be one of them or seeing the manner in which they were depicted in her book.
How much good I did is debatable but it was a good reminder that teachable moments can be upon us at any time. Also that I should probably spend some time going through all these old books we have lying around and hide the markers.