I looked up the article you were telling me about Brentwood Private School, the one about the students singing racially charged lyrics on a yacht, and I think the reporter is missing a big big point–
I’m sure these kind of things happen at all schools (it doesn’t make it right of course), making the *main* reason why it’s such big news, is because Brentwood is known as being the school of ‘rich kids’–
What we really need to be educating our children about, is what it means to be privileged–that there are many perks (good neighborhoods, good schools), but there are also inherent responsibilities that come attached to it–because people will put you under the microscope more (as perhaps they should (?)
A few years ago, I remember Noah once criticized me for giving a homeless man a dollar once, saying, “you know Mommy, you really shouldn’t be giving away Grampa Joe’s money–that man can call his godfather if he needs something.”
While Noah might have been right about not giving away Joe’s money, of course he was wrong about the godfather part, and so I had a long conversation with him about how lucky he is to have a great godfather, and most people are not so lucky in life…
I think there is so much ‘entitlement’ in this country right now among wealthy children and families–yes, people do work hard and have their own stresses (your job is no picnic),
but the truth is, most people in the ‘upper class’ (or even ‘middle upper class’), had a lot of luck in life to help them out too.
(Born to families in good neighborhoods, had some help paying for good schools, etc–)
And that’s the conversion wealthy people are *not* having with their children enough–‘you got a little lucky in life, so you need to be a little humble. Yes, mom and dad work hard, but we also got lucky too.’
(Like the mom and dad working McDonalds aren’t working hard? I’d much rather have a CEO job any day than work at a McDonalds 60 hours a week–)
With any kind of wealth, should come with it some humility and gratitude…that’s why the video is enraging people so much–not because it’s a bunch of white kids singing a n***er song–but because it’s a bunch of *privileged* white kids who seem to have *no* self reflection over how lucky they are to have the status they do have in life–
The reporter is wrong, it’s not as simple as a racism issue…it’s really a class issue, and in the U.S class status is so rarely discussed…
It’s not about making our children feel guilty, it’s about making them aware…
One of the best things about Canada, was for the first time Noah went to school with some very very poor children (kids who came to school without lunch poor). Since almost all the kids in Ottawa go to public schools, and most neighborhoods are pretty blended (wealthy and non wealthy areas), for the first time Noah met kids who were very very different from him–
(At Warner, we were the ‘poor kids’ at that school, but Noah of course had never seen what real poverty can be like.)
When we were there, and we talked about his book writing, we talked about what a privilege it is to be able to write a book–yes it’s hard work, and yes, you even hate it at times, but how lucky you are, what a privilege it is to be able to write a book–
Do you think Valerie (the girl who was coming to school hungry), can go home at night and work on a book? If she doesn’t have food, I guarantee she doesn’t have a computer either.
(Noah actually shared a lot of his lunches with her, once we found out.)
It wasn’t about making Noah feel guilty, it was about being aware of how our circumstances create our realities for us–maybe Valerie is a very talented writer–maybe she’s an even better writer than Noah–but she can’t even process that part of her development, because her family is struggling too much to survive.
Since Noah has always been the ‘poorest’ of his circle of peers, he knows what it’s like to not be able to live up or compete on that level, but even he hadn’t really thought what it meant to be able to even pursue a hobby at home, because you are too poor…
That’s what is so upsetting about the Brentwood video–what a luxury–what a privilege!-to be spending time on a yacht, instead of working at a 7-11 Saturday night to help your parents pay the rent. There are many teenagers who live like that in the United States–they have to work to help their parents pay the rent.
So you’re going to spend that time singing racially insensitive lyrics?
No one is expecting videos of discussions about world peace, but then again, perhaps that would be the right thing to do–since you don’t have to be slaving away to make ends meet like thousands of other teenagers (or tied up with a million health problems, like the chronically ill),
maybe choosing to use that time to help make the world a better place would be the noble thing to do–
Sometimes in our own suffering (Noah would tell you I’m torturing him sometimes by making him write books :), we lose sight of what a luxury our problems are–do you think the homeless man on the street cares about his first amendment rights? He’s too busy trying to find a sandwich to eat…
Just to breathe a word about free speech isn’t on his daily to do list…
That’s why people with those luxuries need to spend their time conscientiously…
And as the YouTube video proves, the world is watching…but that’s not why people should do it. You should do it because it’s the right thing to do.