Sixth-grade language arts teacher last week Bill Ferriter asked his students, “What point do you think the artist was trying to make with this image?”:

According to the North Carolina teacher’s blog, The Tempered Radical, his students responded:

“Well, that’s pretty obvious, Mr. Ferriter. He’s trying to say that the United States has never had a woman president.”

Amazing, huh?

Was gender the first thing that you thought of when you looked at the profiles of our previous Presidents?

It wasn’t for me. I expected them to point out that for hundreds of years, America has been ruled by old white men. After all, race has defined many of the most powerful conversations in our country over the past 200 years—and as a white man teaching in the South, race has always been an issue that I’ve danced around.

My kids didn’t see race, though! Barack Obama’s image didn’t stand out despite being the only black man on the page. All that they noticed was that he was a man—nothing more and nothing less.

About our First Person series:

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