First a little background: I grew up in small town Indiana. My mom is Hispanic; my dad white.
It’s the mid-1980s. I’m in the second grade. I remember this event like it was yesterday: It turned out to be my first inkling of “information literacy” – although too young to know it – and the term itself wasn’t emphasized until 1989.
This is what happened: My mom came to visit me at school. After she left, one of my classmates asked me in all seriousness:
Is your mom Mrs. Huxtable?
Yes, Claire Huxtable. The mom from 1980s hit The Cosby Show.
As a second grader, I couldn’t define the word askance, but that was the look I had on my face.
Here’s how the conversation unfolded:
Me: Where did you hear that?
Him: Nowhere. I just thought that.
[Insert future librarian thinking: Where did he get his information from? Why hasn’t he verified it?]
Me: You know that Mrs. Huxtable is just a character on The Cosby Show, right? She’s not a real person.
[Insert future librarian thinking: Why can’t he distinguish between fiction and real-life?]
Me: You also know that Mrs. Huxtable is African-American, right? My mom is Mexican.
[Insert future librarian thinking: I want to go grab the shiny new World Book Encyclopedia off of the shelf. Why isn’t he using prior knowledge as context? After all, I know he’s eaten at my aunt’s taco truck. Everyone in town knows it!]
Him: Oh. Ok.
Another classmate: “I heard your mom was Hawaiian.”
Here’s my mom – mid-1980s (top) and Mrs. Huxtable, aka Phylicia Rashad (bottom). What do you think?