I am so disappointed.
My niece purchased a Fisher Price School bus for my son. She thought it would be a good gift for him since he will ride the bus to school for the first time tomorrow.
David unwrapped his gift with just a little help from me. I had the pleasant task of de-wiring the bus from its' packaging-Dontcha just love how Fisher Price hard wires all their toys?
There are three little people included in the bus. It's a short bus, like the one David will ride. There is a Caucasian girl named Sue, an African-American boy named Michael, and a Hispanic bus driver named Carlos. There is also a wheelchair in the bus.
When the wheelchair fell out of the back, I said, "Oh a wheelchair. That's a nice way to teach kids about inclusion and differences." My niece picked up the little people and after reading the booklet said, " Wait, this isn't right. Look at the people"
I looked at the little people. The girl, Sue wears glasses. She is carrying a book in her hand. She is wearing rain gear. A hat and raincoat. Her book bag is on her back, neatly closed. By her appearance, she looks like a serious student. The boy, Michael has on a red baseball cap, cocked to the side. He is holding crayons in one hand, a paintbrush in the other, and his book bag is opened and full of toys. By his appearance, he does not look like a serious student. The bus driver, Carlos, has a black bushy mustache. A stereotype that emerged in the 70s toward the Latino community.
I had a party at my home yesterday. My daughter is 20, My niece and her husband are in their late 20s. My in-laws are in their 70s. There were two other young women in their 20s. Myself, my husband, my brother and sister in law are in our 40s. So we had a good demographic to choose from.
I presented the little people to my guests. The consensus was the same. Sue was the serious student and Michael was not.
What's up with that Fisher Price!?!
Are you saying that female students are more serious than male students? Are students of color less serious than their Caucasion peers? Do Hispanic men have to be mustachioed?
If my daughter received this toy, I would not allow her to play with it. I didn't want to teach her negative stereotypes or have any stereotypical programming in my home. I didn't allow violent toys for her either.
One of the issues I struggle with, in parenting David, is that I want to raise him the same way I raised my daughter. He needs to learn about the world and have home-training. His autism is an obstacle, but I don't feel it's an obstacle that can't be overcome. I have to teach him about stereotyping and why it is wrong.
So, I have removed the little people from the bus. He can press the places in the bus where the little people sat to make the lights and words happen. He can still put his foot inside the top of the bus and ride it like a skateboard. Sue, Michael, and Carlos will be retired to the place of non-appropriate toys until I can find a way to teach him.
It deeply saddens me that in 2008, I still have to have this conversation with one of my children.