Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meeting Hate With Humor

I got a book in the mail today that I'm really excited about.  I haven't actually shared it with any children yet; I'm on summer break from school, and my daughter is still a bit young for it.  I think it's a beautiful book with a great message, appropriate for older elementary students on up.

White Flour, written by David LaMotte, is an illustrated poem about a true event, a Ku Klux Klan rally that took place in Knoxille, Tennessee five years ago.  On this day, a group of white supremacists met their match: the Coup Clutz Clowns.  A group of counter-protesters dressed in clown suits came to the rally armed with props.  When the demonstrators shouted "white power!", they feigned misunderstanding and answered with phrases such as "white flour", "tight showers", and "wife power".  The clowns' antics have been captured incredibly well by illustrator Jenn Hales.

In the end, the clowns seem to have "killed with kindness".  The white supremacist group slunk away in defeat--an hour and a half earlier than their rally was scheduled to finish.

David's message is one of peace.  At the end of the book, he discusses that there are options when responding to aggression.  We commonly think of 'fight or flight', but he talks about a third option.  He writes, "If we can be creative enough to find ways to disarm hatred without either retreating or yielding to hatred ourselves, we often find that more constructive outcomes become possible." That is definitely a message worth sharing.

Visit for more about the book and the author's other projects.