Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post, February 18, 2014
A classroom skit that third-graders were preparing to present in a Prince George’s County elementary school was canceled after a parent alerted school officials to material she thought was offensive to immigrants.
The short skit — titled “The Uninvited Guest” — tells a story about Uncle Sam and the people who are welcome at a party in his “Country Haven.” In a nod to the nation’s immigration debate, guests who have lived in the country all their lives and those who have visas are invited to attend, but the Uncle Sam character makes it clear that those who do not have visas — those who “sneak into” the party — are not welcome and must leave.
“Outsiders who pose a threat to the health or safety of my family aren’t welcome here,” Uncle Sam says, according to a classroom copy of the skit obtained by The Washington Post. Uncle Sam berates a visitor who comes in through a window, uninvited, telling him to go back to where he came from. “I don’t want any drug addicts or drug traffickers to come in either. No criminals. We have enough problems; we don’t need to invite more!”
The skit was part of a teacher’s social studies lesson plan on immigration in a county gifted-and-talented class, said a parent whose child is in the course, which is at a school inside the Capital Beltway. The parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her child, said the teacher pulled the script from a Web site that provides educators with classroom ideas, work sheets and other supplemental materials.
A skit that deals with immigration is particularly sensitive in Prince George’s, where more than 27 percent of the county’s students were born outside of the United States or have a language other than English spoken at home. The majority of the school system’s international students are Hispanic.
Gustavo Torres, the executive director of Casa of Maryland, a Latino and immigrant advocacy group, said the skit is offensive and unacceptable.
“The play is horrible. It is racist,” Torres said. He said he was grateful that the parent complained and is pleased that the school system responded appropriately, but “at the same time this was horrendous.”
[Editor’s Note: 67.4 percent of the students in Prince George’s County public schools are black; 22.6 percent are Hispanic.]