August 08, 2010

Camp Half-Blood

At Camp, Make-Believe Worlds Spring Off Page

By Sharon OttermanThat morning, the boys had been regular Brooklyn elementary school students at a summer camp in Prospect Park. But now each had been revealed to be a half-blood, with one mortal parent and one who was a god of Greek myth.

Children have always sought to act out elements of their favorite books, becoming part of the worlds that the works create. Now, organized role-playing literary camps, like the weeklong Camp Half-Blood in Brooklyn, are sprouting up around the nation.
Some dictionary definitions of half blood:half blood also half-blood (hfbld, häf-)

1.a. The relationship existing between persons having only one parent in common.
b. A person existing in such a relationship.

2. Offensive A person of mixed racial descent, especially a person of Native American and white parentage.

3. A half-blooded domestic animal.
Half blood2. (half-blood) offens. another term for half-breed.In her Mixed Race America blog, Jennifer parses this term and notes yet another definition:

Why the phrase "half-blood" needs serious interrogation[A]ccording to the Oxford English Dictionary, "half-blood" has at its core the idea that there is both a quantifiable ("half") notion of blood AND a qualifiable (as in hierarchical) idea embedded in the phrase "half-blood":

"half-blooded a., born of different races; spec. of superior blood or race by one parent only."
Comment:  Using the Greek gods as a model, the camp promotes sexual promiscuity, single motherhood, and in some cases rape. It does so with a name offensive to Native Americans. Nice.

If it's not clear what's wrong with the "half blood" concept, think of this. Zeus is the Great White Father of American history. He mates with lesser beings: ordinary Greek women in one case and Native women in the other. The resulting children are half noble white gods and half lowly mud people.

Nobody would use the term "half blood" if, say, an English man and a French woman had a child. That pairing would have no inferior "blood." The term "half blood" exists so a society can label people as tainted members of a lesser race.

Kids may think pretending to be superior white demi-gods is "fun." What they're learning is a system of racial classification similar to those in the antebellum South, India, or Nazi Germany. Is that a good idea? No.

For more on the subject, see Teabaggers:  Obama = "Half-Breed" and "Half-Breeds" in The Tin Star.

Below:  "Camp Half-Blood in Prospect Park, which is inspired by a book series based on Greek mythology." (Katie Orlinsky for The New York Times)

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see Cooke Defends Offensive "Half-Blood."