Thursday, April 01, 2010

I wish this were an April Fool's joke...

I am so.....sad, disgusted, embarrassed, shocked, (pick one!) about something one of my children said today.

They were playing outside and I called them in for lunch. The garage door was opened (with all the bikes and such). The front door was also open (so I can see them playing). They all came in and sat down. I pulled the front door to because the sun was bugging me. One of my big kids says, "Mom! You can't close the front door! Someone might steal our stuff!" I told the kiddo that there was no reason to worry about that. We live in a safe neighborhood. Everybody knows everybody. It's just stuff. This child...this sensitive, intelligent, culturally diversified, formerly bullied for their ethnicity child....looks at me like I am absolutely stupid and says, "MOM! THERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!"

Ach. I'm crying right now because it's so hard to even put that "out there." My child said THAT. My MINORITY child said that! The child has never lived in a home that teaches anything like that! Not only do we not teach that, but we DO actively teach the alternative to THAT! The child does not have family or friends (that I know of!) that would EVER have that attitude! The child's best friend has three internationally adopted siblings, two of which are from Africa. So none of the child's other culturally-diversified friends would say that right? Except that my child DID say it. And my child doesn't look like a racist either!

I have been wracking my brain tonight trying to figure out how my child received that message. Could a child absorb that sort of thought simply by seeing what the "bad guys" on TV usually look like and who the media chooses to highlight when crimes occur? I am not teaching my child that attitude. No BODY in the child's life is teaching that attitude. What else could it be?

Of course we ALL stopped everything at the moment of that comment and had a talk. I said, "How would you like it if, when Bright is a teenager walking down the street, people think he is going to steal their bikes just because he's black?" The child looks at me like I'm stupid and says, "But we know Bright! He's Bright!" And there it is. Outside this house people have color that defines them (in the child's mind). Inside this house, nobody is defined by color--they are defined by action. We talked about lots of stereotypes, and how you can't ever tell who a person really is just by looking at them. Blah, blah, blah....the same sorts of conversations we've had over and over in our house since they were all babies anyway! They know this stuff!

But that comment still came out. That child is still learning negative imaging of black people from *whatever* is observed on the exterior of her life experience (media, trips to wal-mart, whatever...). Some people try to say that racism is no longer a part of everyday American culture. Bull crap. BULL CRAP! If my internationally adopted, ethnic minority child can come up with a racist comment, anybody could! And it makes me mad! But I don't know what I can do about it...


Heather A. 10:23 PM  

So sorry Miss Anita. What a yucky conversation to have. Did you ask why they thought that was something that would happen? I'm always amazed at what my girls pick up. I mean, we homeschool, limit what they watch on TV or movies, and closely watch the kids they interact with, yet somehow, some way, they pick up things without our knowing or that we don't approve of. HOW? I would love to know.

Mama D.'s Dozen 12:10 AM  

Oh my! So sorry!

Thanks for your honesty. Thanks for being willing to bring up such a TOUGH subject.

I've heard people say that there really isn't racism any longer. Ummmm ... NO!!! Racism IS alive and well in America. It's everywhere.


Amy 12:15 AM  

Hey Anita. I am sorry. That must have been hard for you and as to where it came from- I doubt your kiddo would even know. Probably something that slipped in subconsciously and even with limited exposure to that type of thinking, obviously kids pick up on things we wish they wouldn't.

Instead of feeling like this is some sort of failure though, what I would say is this- consider the fact that your child has the real knowledge that color does not matter, he or she just hasn't transferred that understanding to a new situation (unknown strangers). You are helping to bridge that by the follow up conversations.

Love ya sis.

Carrie 12:17 AM  

The Bible verse that comes to mind is Galations 6:9 (Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don't give up). You've probably already thought of this, but the grace in this situation is that you have the opportunity to continue to address the misconception while your child is still young. Unfortunately, there are many loud voices that exist in our society that tell lies about groups of people and create "us" vs "them" - whoever "they" might be. As painful as it is to hear those words coming from your own child - one whom you have taught and shown and lived a completely different reality - it is a gift to know which lie you need to keep on countering with truth. Hang in there! It sounds like you are doing an amazing job of teaching your children to appreciate people who are different from them!

Arnold family 8:11 AM  

Sometimes kids comments have nothing to do with what they have been taught by their parents. We live in a fallen world where sin is everywhere. Even the best of kids say hurtful things. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter.

Holly Arnold :)

Chantelle 9:06 AM  

((hug)) You're doing all the right things in a world that is OH SO WRONG. Keep up the good work.

Dani Neumann 10:18 AM  

Kids pick up on things anywhere.. and I agree with Amy, they do KNOW that race doesn't matter it's just a new situation! Maybe he/she was just worried about the change in the neighborhood and reacted in a way very un-typical of their character. Eventually they'll all realize that they aren't racist with family and friends and they should take the attitude out into the world.

One conversation may have even fixed this! If they absorbed such ideas from such limited exposure to racism (so limited that you can't pinpoint it even) then think about how much more effect a logical discussion with a loved one could have.

Daddy D 7:01 AM  

Out of the mouth of babes..dont over annalise what they all comes from school.. and it doesnt matter what you say... children will still hear and follow other children at school in what they say... tv doesnt help either...or society for that matter... chill!

Renee 8:03 AM  


You are such a good Mom. I can hear how hurt you are over this. I would be too. The blessing is that she is learning at home these important lessons at a young age. Foolishness is really bound up in the heart of a child (and in me)...there is a folly in youth and your teaching and imparting God's Word into her heart on this and all matters brings forth much fruit.

You rock Anita you really do.

whenpigsfly 10:27 PM  

It makes me think that she isn't equating "black people" with Black PEOPLE.............and I am not sure I even know what that means except that for a child to be able to differentiate between a "race" and their sibs who are of that race, tells me that the child is not really connecting what they have said with what they know to be true. Sounds like a good teaching moment for you to show how "some people" make broad generalizations about those they don't know personally and then jump to the assumption that their thinking is correct when in fact is is misdirected.Prejudice in a nutshell. I hope you are able to use this in a gentle way to teach about our fallen world and how God's love is for "whosoever"!