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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Xenophobia is in the Family

You think you know someone. Then you find out that a couple of "liberals" in your family are just as xenophobic as your average conservative.

So I think I'm having this friendly conversation about how great it is that my daughter is in a dual-immersion Spanish-English school, when all of a sudden a set of parents (in my family no less) tell me that they moved to another city because they heard Spanish being spoken in the classroom when they enrolled their child in school. So much for integration. 

The concept of "white flight" I didn't fully comprehend until I saw first hand that even "liberals" embrace the fear of "other" when it comes to enrolling their child in a school with children of another background. 

I attempted to explain that speaking Spanish does not lower your IQ. In fact, being bi-literate, if it doesn't increase your IQ, it will at least increase your knowledge. And with the requirement of a second language for most college bachelor degrees, one would think that bilingual immersion is the only obvious choice for a serious academic path.

For another story about the fear on others, read about Ruby Bridges' first days as the only African-American child in an all European-American school.  


  1. The area where I live in Iowa is known as a "hotbed of liberalism." (That's one of the reasons I moved here.) Like you said, I expect conservatives to hold xenophobic and prejudiced viewpoints, but I was really shocked to learn about the so-called liberals in my town that hold those same closed-minded views. Our local school district has been planning to redraw school boundary lines because the area has grown a lot and the boundaries no longer make sense. I attended several town meetings with my so-called liberal neighbors and was appalled at how many times I heard them saying things like, "I support diversity, but those kids..." "I love my neighborhood school, but some of those families won't fit in..." I heard a whole slew of NIMBY (not in my back yard) remarks that made me appreciate the straightforwardness of conservatives. I'd rather know that someone shallow and afraid and have it out in the open than think that they are liberal only to find out they are not.

    It all reminds me of an old Phil Ochs song my mom played for me when I was a kid "Love me I'm a Liberal". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

  2. Thank you for sharing Jen. Desegregation is the law - but with the victimization of parents who cross into other districts - I'm utterly confused.