I was quite not ready for the answer I received from one of my students when I asked why President Obama could be considered an "outsider" (I was comparing him to the Biblical Moses): "he is not one of us". When I asked to define "us", he said: "Americans", when I started to contradict that that's bullshit and he is an American and that it is all a lie, he started to get all confused talking about "I've read somewhere..." and so on. Of course what I meant was that he spent some years in Indonesia and had untypical upbringing, bridging different ethnicities and race lines, being able to have bot an insider, and an outsider point of view. (Other problem being that the kids knew hardly anything and I, the non-citizen, had to tell them the details. but somehow the "born not in the US" sticks.)
I guess after his yesterday's "joke" gesture making squinted eyes when we talked about ancient Asiatics, should have prepared me for today's bomb. Or his homophobic comments some weeks ago how all gays are disgusting because they shave legs, but lesbians are ok (I added "because they are hot"?).
I had a talk with him after the homophobic talk on sensitivity and homophobia and that I, as a lesbian, felt extremely uncomfortable with his comments. He took it in pretty well.
I also very strongly reacted to his "squinting" gesture, telling him that I wold not accept this kind of racist jokes. He was surprised that it was racist.
Today I also tried to push some point across, about not trusting all he reads/hears, to be critical, to not listen in to idiots. But I have no idea how well it would work.
The good thing? He's a 9th grader, and he's in a very good school with strong emphasis on social justice, human dignity and respect. He may still grow up to be a decent human being.
Another student of mine told me she wants to join "Purple Day" in remembrance of the gay youth suicide with our school. i haven't heard about it before... I told her how to organize it, where to begin and whom to contact.
So yeah, there are the terrifying examples of hurtful ignorance, but also very hopeful, sensitive and open minded youth. I hope the latter will grow.