The parents of children who attend a primary school in Valais in southern Switzerland have complained over the use of a game entitled “Who’s afraid of the black man?”, a hide-and-seek game they argue is “racist”.
Hedi Putallaz, the parent of a pupil at a primary school in Monthey first became aware of the game, used by teachers in a gymnastics class, back in 2010.
He complained to the head of the school, who instructed the teachers to suggest that the game should instead be called “The wolf in sheep’s clothing”, according to a report in the La Tribune de Genève daily.
But in a recent class, one of Putallaz’s son’s teachers again suggested playing the game entitled “Who’s afraid of the black man?”
According to the head of the school, the staff member concerned was an external coordinator, so he was not aware of the directive.
This was however the final straw for Putallaz and his wife, who is of afro-American origin. Now the couple want the educational authorities in Valais to issue an “official directive” to change the name of the game in all the schools in the canton, where it is still widely used.
“The Valais should not be considered the Mississipi of Switzerland,” say the parents in their request to the cantonal authorities because they consider the game to be a throwback to a racist past many blacks had to overcome.
“If the game was called ‘Are you afraid of the Jew’or ‘of the homosexual’, how would people react?” Putallaz said.
Jean-François Lovey, chief of the Department of Education of Valais, is yet to review, but he told La Tribune de Genève that he does not see the situation in the same way: “Honestly, it is a harmless game,” he said.
“The reasoning of these parents shows the extreme [political] correctness of our society,” Lovey added.
The Putallaz family is now awaiting a resolution from the educational authorities in Valais, but they have already warned that if their petition is not accepted, they will bring the issue in front of the European Court of Human Rights.