Can love be an activity?
With all the recent efforts to dissolve our use of labels and other convenient demarcations of biased perception, I thought: why not teach kids that, for all intents and purposes, labels are alive, well and currently screwing them all over? The royal We uses labels to establish insta-opinions of people when actually talking to them would take far too long; also, We employs labels to refer to people whose names we do not know (“you know, the tall, dark, ubiquitous-looking one…”); and We reads labels so that we know what percentage of prejudice We eats with each serving. We (meaning all of us) would like to toss labels back into the barrel of superficiality from which they came, but unfortunately this will not happen as long as human vision can discern between various types of skin color, dress, demeanor, and sexual dimorphism, and as long as human psychology yearns so deeply for the creation of an in-group (and, therefore, subsequent out-groups).
With this in mind, I decided to teach my kids about demographics. We had a brief discussion about what demographics meant (we established them based on four traits: age, gender, culture/race, and common activity) and then I turned on the radio and had them guess for which demographic each station was aiming.
These were their expert (and accurate) suppositions:
97.9 (La Mega) – young Spanish people who like to dance
100.3 (Z100) – young people who like MTV
101.1 (Jack) – old white people who like to sit down
..and various others. When I finally got to Hot 97 (my least favorite of the New York radio stations due to its incessant deposits of 50 Cent), I fielded one of the more poignant questions I’ve ever experienced as a teacher. After arriving at the fact that young, brown people like rap music, we tried to establish a common activity for Hot 97’s listeners. A lone hand went up:
“Um, Mr. Flyshower… can *love* be an activity?”
I deflected the comment to talks of familial hugs and kisses, thus saving myself from officially having crossed the ever-wavering line between what is acceptable to talk about and my getting fired.
Demographics will never be discussed again.