Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is Teaching a Child that “All Black People should Die” Abuse?

In June of 2008, two children were removed from their parents custody after arriving at school wearing a swastika and the white supremacist symbol 14/88

“The number 14 refers to a slogan containing 14 words – "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children", while 88 represents the letters HH (the eighth in the alphabet) to mean "Heil Hitler."

The custody case has gone to trial and on May 25th the social worker began her testimony regarding the child's statements. 

The elementary-school-aged child was familiar with Nazi phrases such as "Heil Hitler," used racial epithets and would talk calmly about how black people could be killed, a social worker testified.

"She said you would whip black people with a ball and chain and they would die," testified the social worker, who cannot be identified under Manitoba law.

The worker was the first witness at a trial that is to determine whether the province's child welfare system will gain permanent custody of the girl and her pre-school-aged brother, who were seized from their parental home last year.

The social worker was called to the girl's school after she showed up with white supremacist slogans written on her skin – writings which she appeared to understand fully.

"She told me that what people don't understand is that black people should die," the social worker said. "She stated that everyone who is not white should die.

"She said that white children are not safe because of `n----rs.' "

The child repeatedly used racial slurs about blacks, Asians, Arabs and other minorities during a 45-minute conversation, the social worker testified, and believed any visible minority was a threat to white children.

When child welfare workers visited the family home later, they found white supremacist paraphernalia. Court heard the children also had access to a skinhead website and were shown videos depicting racial violence.

The reason given for removing the children in question is unrelated to the racist ideology that they have been exposed to, however it is my opinion that such behaviour is what is perhaps most damaging to the children and society. 

This case is important because it brings to light the issue of how far we should extend parental rights.  The fact that these children can parrot their parents racism without emotion reveals that they have come to fully accept the idea that people of color are inherently inferior to Whites.    Even though a Canadian identity is socially understood as White, the fact remains that this is a multi-cultural country and therefore; such attitudes towards people of color will inevitably hamper their ability to interact and function with all citizens.  A belief structure of this nature will impair progress in education, as well as in the job market.  If such ideas are more publicly articulated, they will cause harm to any person of color within earshot.

Hate is not a positive emotion and has no useful purpose.  An ordinary White citizen in Canada already exists with undeserved privilege, however this family seeks to escalate the racial divide by advocating violence and overt racism.  Children are often invoked as justification to advance or maintain policies that are inherently racist, homophobic, and transphobic, however when actual harm is done as with the case of this family, the argument is continually reduced to parental rights.  A harms based approach it seems can only be invoked when it seeks to maintain an undeserved privilege of a dominant group.

Allowing such beliefs to go unchecked within any society is tantamount to allowing the growth of a social cancer.   There can be no cohesion or positive growth if one group of citizens is continually under attack by another.   The constructed differences that we have allowed for the purposes of perpetuating hierarchy mean that we are not acting to our fullest potential.  How many opportunities are lost because marginalized groups are specifically undereducated?  The whiteness of ones skin does not indicate potential and therefore by continually advancing whiteness means that Canada is failing to utilize all of its potential human resources.  To encourage future generations to continue to believe that this racial divide is necessary due to the false ideology of racism, means that the very country which we seek to promote will inevitably be unable to compete. 

We know that what these children are being taught is not only damaging but morally wrong.   Instead of focusing on parental rights, we should consider the right of a child not to be taught misleading and or false information as though it were the least bit truthful.  We should be considering how the perpetuation of this vicious hatred will impact the racial dynamics of this country.   Ideas and language of this nature are not innocent and do indeed cause harm to the individuals that internalize them and the people that are forced negotiate it.



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