There’s few things more enlightening than engaging an eleven year old in conversation in 2013.
This semester I spent my Thursday evenings in an Intercultural Communications forum (it was FAR from a lecture to be quite honest) when I really didn’t need to waste those hours sitting in class mostly confused about how anything we were talking about was relevant because I had all that I needed to know about intercultural communication living in my house.
I don’t know what people usually expect when having conversations with pre-pubescent boys, but I am 100% sure that few expect to be bombarded by imperialist views that reinforce the US as a hegemonic force.
Matthew: “The US should invade North Korea and give it to us.”
Me: “That’s going a little too far. You can’t just take somebody’s country and give it to other people.”
Matthew: *thoughtful pondering* “Did you know that Somalia didn’t even have a government until about ten years ago?”
Me: “No. I didn’t know that.”
Matthew: “I think they should give them to us too. Somalia is just a country with people running around with guns doing nothing!”
Me: “Africa was just a place with people running around doing nothing too!”
Matthew: “But Christopher Columbus came and made them a continent!”
There’s so many things wrong with that conversation. I don’t know where to start. The first question I had to ask myself is What on earth are they teaching children in school? One of my friends mentioned that it’s normal for children of his age to have something called an imagination but I wonder what kind of an imagination is normal at this age?
When I was eleven years old I woke up thrilled on a Saturday morning, ready to waste my weekend away watching Cartoon Network Classics and I turned out just fine. It would seem that the tastes of children has changed, drastically.
Matthew has always been a knowledge seeker, usually entertained by run of the mill National Geographic documentaries and anything to do with cars and planes. Typical eleven year old boy stuff.
We haven’t had cable TV for a while. So as I type this, I am really perplexed as to where his views on African countries and the US relations comes from. It can’t just be blamed on an active imagination. I was never a fan of the imagination, I’m a cold, hard facts type of gal. It either is, or it isn’t. But you don’t just make things like this up.
As a University student in the Caribbean, I’ve passed through every rung of the education system and every step further you go they tell you something new.
Primary School: “Arawaks and Caribs are the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean.”
Secondary School: “Their real names however were the Tainos and the Kalinagos.”
University: “This nonsense about Tainos and Kalinagos. It is not to be believed. Neo-Indians. Those were the real indigenous people of the Caribbean.”
Me: “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY SO IN THE BEGINNING!?!”
I just took you through a 15 year long Caribbean history lesson. You’re welcome. (Only Module One though, you’ll have to come back for Modules Two and Three at a later date yet to be announced.)
This might be one of the less significant things they lied to us about and truthfully, I’ve always been told that “a liar is a thief”. So why do we continue to steal from these children, filling their mind with lies and the imperialist views of a 16th century European male?
I’ve heard conversations surrounding issues of black empowerment in the Caribbean, the Americanization of Caribbean culture etc. and I have never been more moved to think that there must be some agenda being pushed somewhere out there to hide the facts from our people to keep them oppressed. And believe me, oppression is real even in our ‘modern’ society.
I didn’t mean for this post to turn into what it became but the truth is we cannot sit by and allow this to continue. My little brother has the ethnocentric views of an American citizen, praising the hegemonic force of a nation that he identifies with because it’s culture is so far reaching and rooted deeply in what it means to be Caribbean (quite frankly). Cultural erasure is happening before my very eyes and I might think I have all the answers but I don’t because I am just as tainted with my American values as my eleven year old brother is.