We live in an environment that is as racially, culturally and socially diverse as any environment could be. And ever since we have moved to San Diego, for the first time in my life, I have felt like a minority.
Or rather, definitely not part of the majority.
In a neighborhood that is very close to the Mexican border, we live on a street where there are 12 homes.
There are two Caucasian families.
And two Mexican families.
One Japanese family.
One Filipino family.
And one African American family.
There is one family where a Filipino man is married to a Mexican woman.
One family where a Chinese woman is married to a Vietnamese man.
One family where an African American woman is married to a Caucasian man.
One family where a Caucasian man is married to an Indian woman.
And there is a homosexual couple who just moved in from Ohio.
Our children's pediatrician is African American.
Our children's pediatric dentist is Filipino.
Our dentist is Italian.
Our optometrist is Brazilian.
My husband's primary care physician is Mexican.
My primary care physician is Polish.
My hairdresser is Mexican.
My husband's former boss was a lesbian.
One of my husband's largest clients is a Native American Indian tribe.
My former boss was Mormon.
Our gardener is Mexican.
With the exception of our financial advisor, the only Caucasian people that we frequently interface with are the checkers and baggers at the grocery store.
"What's up homey?! Shore those goods up in paper, won't you please?!"
Because I have lived in several parts of the country and have been exposed to such diverse populations over my lifetime, I have learned about a lot of different cultures. And I have really enjoyed learning about these different cultures because they are so unlike my own and they usually serve up some amazing food.
In the course of my life, I have formed some opinions. And I try as hard as I might, to not make any broad sweeping over generalizations. Because I know that not all people, circumstances or situations are the same.
But my experiences are what create my reality.
My reality is that in general, people do not make comments as they pertain to a person's skin color, ethnicity or religion for fear that they will be perceived as prejudicial.
My reality is that people stumble and fall all over themselves in an attempt to remain politically correct and although I believe it is important to be respectful of people and cultures different from your own, it is fully acceptable to talk about those differences.
My reality is that people who have recently come to this country as immigrants, are among the hardest working people I've ever met.
My reality is that a lot of people, regardless of ethnicity, don't believe that rules apply to them and they have a sense of entitlement, unjustified superiority and are terrible drivers.
My reality is that a lot of people, regardless of ethnicity, are wholesome, beautiful, caring, compassionate souls and I strive to be more like them.
My reality is that the homosexual couples that I know that are raising families are among the most loving, wonderful people I've ever had the opportunity to meet and their children are lucky.
My reality is that Filipino and Mexican people are intensely proud of their heritage(s), they strive to be honorable and form strong communities and some of the tightness knit families I've ever witnessed.
My reality is that when I lived in the south, I noticed that there were higher levels of obesity and fried food consumption than anywhere else in the U.S. But I also grew to love Cajun chicken and biscuits unlike any food on earth.
My reality is that those people who most embrace their faith, were raised in that faith and the foundation of their beliefs run very deep. And sadly, I don't think that there is as much tolerance in this world as there should be.
My reality is that unlike other parts of the U.S., it can be very difficult to meet and get to know your neighbors in California. But once you know them, there is a good chance they'll become your friends for life. Even if you have opposing views on Prop 8.
My reality is that I love New York and almost all of the people I've ever met from that state. But try as I might, I can not understand why anyone would back the Yankees. (Oh, come on! I'm kidding!)
My reality is that the Mormon faith is downright inspirational considering all of the Mormon families I know have three or more children and don't drink wine.
Since we've become parents, Charlie and I have met a lot of people. It seems children have a way of drawing you out of your social shell and attracting you to people unlike anything else.
Maybe it is our need to feel like we are part of a community - or maybe we just generate a lot of attention wherever we go. But whatever the case, we have developed a very solid network of friends with similarly aged children. Our friends - and subsequently, our children's friends - hail from very diverse backgrounds.
In interacting with different families, we see how they are raising their children. Some of their parental techniques might be dictated by traditional cultural influence. Some techniques might be dictated by modernism. We borrow ideas that we think might apply for our circumstances. And we try not to judge people's parenting methodologies.
But sometimes, we do.
Our children's Montessori school is run by a woman who is Mexican. With the exception of the food policy (or lack thereof), it is my conclusion that this school adheres to the Montessori philosophy.
Our children's Montessori school frequently serves snacks that consist of brownies, cream filled chocolate cookies and Fruit Loops. They condone birthday parties where donuts and goody bags filled with candy are distributed to all the students in the class.
They had a Halloween parade with a piñata.
In a post that I wrote yesterday I said, "I believe that the emphasis on "healthy" nutrition is not as advanced in Mexico as it is in other parts of the world."
I'm not surprised that someone left me a comment on that post in which they told me that my opinion regarding Hispanics was ignorant. In general, sweeping terms, I would totally agree that my comment would appear ignorant and unjustified. In fact, in looking at how I prefaced this statement, it does seem inappropriate. So to anyone that might have been offended, I apologize.
In this particular case. In this particular geographic location. With this particular school. With this particular student body. And this particular administration. The comment that I made appears to be the only logical explanation.
When a school subscribes to the Montessori philosophy, except in the way of nutrition, what other conclusion should I draw? Is the school trying to save a buck by serving up snacks that have no nutritional value? Is the administration just plain lazy? Is it of any relevance at all, that the teachers and over 90% of the student body are Mexican?
Personally, I believe it is.
Although, I also believe that people of any ethnicity can and do feed their children food that is loaded in sugar or devoid of nutritional value.
In recent years, there have been a lot of Mexican families that have fled in to the United States (and our neighborhood) to escape kidnappers in Tijuana. Random individuals have been targeted for kidnappings and held hostage until their families can come up with ransom.
I personally know two people that have been affected by this horrific variety of crime. My hairdresser's brother-in-law lost his hand when the family could not come up with $25,000.00 and a neighbor lost her husband when the family did not come up with money fast enough.
To be ignorant is to lack knowledge.
I know that a few of the students that attend Montessori with our children have recently fled to the U.S. from Mexico.
I know that a few of the children still live in Mexico and are driven up to school everyday.
I know that the Director has told me that she has not wanted to offend anyone who wants to bring treats to school, so she has endorsed them to do so.
I know that the Director has further told me that she serves the food that she does because the majority of children will eat it and it is comparable to the food that the parents pack in their lunch boxes.
The majority of the children happen to be of Mexican descent.
For all I know, the majority of children live on restricted sugar diet and are being sent to school with hummus and pita bread. But that would not be consistent with what the Director has told me, nor what I have seen coming home in my own children's lunch boxes from the parties that they are having at school.
There are studies showing that good nutrition is directly linked to poverty levels. And the fact is, Mexico is a third world country. And even though many of the families may be well educated and have the financial means to send their children to Montessori, I do not believe that they are embracing a healthy nutritional lifestyle.
I don't know, but I suspect that the school has ties and a history with several of the families that send their children to Montessori and they do not want to lose that support.
It is my opinion, that in this particular case, the culture of the people running the school trumps the culture of the Montessori philosophy. I believe that understanding the culture of any entity that runs a school - or business - or church, lends a degree of insight as to why things might be done the way that they are.
I also know that our Montessori has obtained a license in order to operate in California and there are regulations governing preschool facilities. And although it is not my intention to rock the boat, I do believe it is necessary to find out whether or not our school is in compliance with State requirements.
Because although I know what food is being served to the children, there are some parents who may not. And if I had a child in the toddler room, I would absolutely want to know that just this morning, they were served Cocoa Puffs.
Now because I am mentally depleted from writing this post - which I've been thinking about all day - I am going to go indulge on something sweet.
My husband perhaps, since he just came home.