Bastard People

One of my greatest kids, a girl who undoubtedly will go far (and a baller soccer player), sat down and talked to me today about racism. Apparently, she joined a new club soccer team this year, and the girls, the vast majority of whom are upper-middle to upper class, all of whom are white, have repeatedly proved themselves to be racist and homophobic. This girl is part Filipino and totally an Ally. Some girls on her team refer to her as Mexican and tell her "I'm going to take away your green card". They use words like "nigger" "spick" and "faggot" in everyday conversations.
This took me aback for several reasons: one, it's 2006, assholes; two, I'm so used to the diversity of our school, where if you dropped a racial slur such as those listed above, somebody is bound to kick your ign'ant ass and everyone has friends of different colors; three, even if you are from lily-white St Charles or a cracker private school, isn't your racism supposed to be more...covert? and four, you are claiming to be an elite female athlete and you are homophobic? I'm not trying to perpetuate stereotypes, but you better be down with some lesbians if you are going to play a sport in college, because you are bound to play with a few.
I don't think it's from being sheltered. My parents never knew brown people their whole lives until I was in grade school, pretty much, and if I would have said "nigger," et al, my mom would have beat my ass. You don't have to live in diversity to value it, along with tolerance and understanding. I just don't understand how teens today, living in a culture where so much art and entertainment, including sports and the media, is a forum for diversity. I'm not naive--I know racism exists. Like Avenue Q says, everyone's a little bit racist. But I thought it was in smaller pockets, less overt, and certainly not as blatently ignorant as what my student is facing. What's frustrating is that she feels as though she is fighting a losing battle. She desperately wants to take a stand and put some learning on their asses, but she's new to the team and is already fighting alienation. She has the typical need to belong that most teenagers have, but she's smart enough to know that silence is compromising who she is. I want to call her mom--only because I know her mom will kick some ass, but my student really wants to handle it herself. She needs the team to reach her soccer goals, but she knows that this intolerance makes her character fundamentally different from these girls, and doubts as if her one voice will change these girls. My other kids, of course, want to just kick their asses and be done with it, but that obviously won't solve any problems. I kind of want her to be able to have an awesomely snarky retort for everything ignorant they could say, but even if she outwitted them at every turn, there would be no one around to appreciate her snark. Because it would be awesome if, after they referred to her as "Mexican", she referred to them as "Spoiled, oblivious, morally bankrupt, repressed future lesbians" (which I'm fairly certain at least a few of them are) but they wouldn't get it. We're brainstorming solutions, many of which involve my kids rolling up melting-pot style and being super-nice to all of the girls to to fuck with them, or t-shirts with awesome tolerance-supporting phrases. If you have any solutions, let me know.

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