11 May 2011

We and They

We and They
by Rudyard Kipling

Father and Mother, and Me,
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But-would you believe it? --They look upon We
As only a sort of They!

We eat pork and beef
With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,
Are horrified out of Their lives;
While they who live up a tree,
And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous? ) look upon We
As a simply disgusting They!

We shoot birds with a gun.
They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We
As an utterly ignorant They!

We eat kitcheny food.
We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
As a quite impossible They!

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They!

This is the poem that was in the 10th grade textbook for our lesson today (the super small text was left out... it was the "abridged" version in the text). Anyways, in my class of usually VERY quiet students, this started quite the discussion and I was so happy that it did. You see, as I was walking to school today I was talking to my partner teacher about black people in Moldova and the racism that exists here (we must have subconsciously pre-planned this lesson and knew that's what we were going to be discussion). Moldova is mostly made up of people with very white skin, and then there are the Roma people (formerly known as "gypsies" but that is no longer politically correct). So if a person of skin darker than, say, a super awesome tan, is seen on the street they are stared at and possibly laughed at because it is something new, different, and unexpected (whereas in America it's the norm). So when this poem was presented to the class we were discussing how American English evolved from British English... and how we're one in the same-ish. Well, this poem brought that up but then they decided to throw racism in to it and I was glad that they did because I feel like it is a very modern and important topic. So I put on a character where I asked a lot of questions to make them think and get the conversation going and hopefully I made it clear that I was just in character and I didn't believe what I said... but boy-oh-boy was I proud of my students!!! When I would say something like, "But black skin is so weird! Those people must always be dirty!" They responded with, "No! That's not true! They are people too." SO then I said, "How do you know that?" And they said, "We all have a heart and a mind. And two eyes and two legs and two hands, etc."

GO 10th FORM! They responded with all of the correct answers!!! Yahoo!


  1. What a great poem! AND a great discussion with your students - it's always best when they figure things out for themselves, isn't it?

  2. Absolutely. Unfortunately the 11th graders had differing opinions.

  3. That's great, are you still in Moldova? What's the race climate like now?!