I love American Idol this year. I couldn’t put my finger on the exact reason why–I’m not a big fan of either Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler/Aerosmith music. Despite this, however, I find myself riveted each week. My silly husband, the Kevman, who has never been a big AI fan, just got mad at me because I couldn’t watch last night’s episode with him (had to blog & get The LilyBell in the bath).

I think I love AI this year because the mean people are gone.

I don’t like mean people.  (Neither did Dr. Seuss–remember The Sneetches?)

Why do people have to be mean? What is it that makes most of us want to put each other down–without knowing the other person or what their background is or what they might fear or love or hate?

This morning in class, I gave my sophomores an essay by Sherman AlexieI Hated Tonto Still Do — a piece that describes Alexi’s views of the Hollywoodization of Native Americans. The purpose of the shared reading was to discuss stereotyping and its effects. I even showed a short clip of Alexie reading from his young adult lit book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

So here we are, reading in small groups, taking notes on how Alexie shows how stereotyping has affected him, and discussing why we think this has happened. BB raises his hand and says: “Is this guy gay?”

Stunned, I stared at him, open-mouthed, his words swirling around my head. LL, in her best come-to-Mrs-McCabe’s-rescue-voice says: “No, dummy. We just watched him talk about his wife and kids!” Then a chorus of kids around him say: “Where did that come from?”

What does it matter if you’re reading something by someone who may or may not be gay? Or an Arab? Or from Kenya? Does that make the message less important? Where did that come from? It came from ignorance–where most stereotyping comes from. A lesson that my kids learned first hand this morning.

Thanks, kid!