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When Your Child Is a Victim of Racism.

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MarianJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-10-06 11:01 PM
Original message
When Your Child Is a Victim of Racism.
Up here in Maine we are very blessed. We live in (IMHO) the most beautiful place in the world where there is a sense of calm in the air. We live in a place that people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to come to for a week or 2 so they could get away from their hustle and bustle at home. We live in a place that is not only very accepting of the racial diversity of our family, but very embracing. I truly believe (witnessed by ChicaAzul's and my own eyes) that our son's color makes him very popular among his classmates and the kids he meets at pools, playgrounds, stores, etc. Many of the children are fascinated by his color and want to get to know him. Of course, the fact that he is a truly sweet boy helps.

Given this, it is a massive slap in the face when this sweet child is a victim of racism.

I don't know why it took me so long to write about this. bliss-eternal's post about her husband's family certainly brought this memory to the forefront.

Last year, when our son was a few months past his 5th birthday, we were at the pool in a local community. Our son was playing with a brother and sister. The boy was about his age and the girl appeared to be 8ish. The 3 of them were having a great time for about 20-30 minutes. At one point our son was holding the little girl's hand in the totally innocent way that children do when they're playing. It was no more or less than that (my son is at the age where he thinks that girls are "icky". Boy oh boy do I kid him about it, too). After seeing that, the boy and girl's mother came over to where the kids were playing, close to ChicaAzul and I. She ignored me when I said hello and called her children to her. After speaking to them, the boy and girl TOTALLY ignored my son.

He had had his first encounter with racism. He doesn't know it because we made light of it to him and our son made new friends almost immediately. We, however, felt like wrung out sponges.

We thought of the classic old movie "Gentleman's Agreement". Gregory Peck is a journalist posing as a Jewish man to feel Anti-Semitism. His best friend, John Garfield, whose character is a Jewish Army Captain, thinks he's nuts.

Late in the film, Gregory Peck's son (a YOUNG Dean Stockwell), is called all of the awful names that I don't have to repeat, and Garfield tells Peck that NOW he has the whole story, that it's worst when it's your kids. We were so heart-broken that our wonderful little boy was judged by his skin. I think it was worse for me than for ChicaAzul because, as a Hispanic woman, she's felt racism all of her life. Tragically, there have been times when I've had to "invoke my Caucasianhood" to help some of my in-laws deal with a situation.

As all sane parents do, we wished we could shield our son from all of the hateful people out there who choose hatred as their way of life. We will, until the day we die, be advocates for love, respect and acceptance of all of God's children. We know we won't get there in our lives, but maybe we can make a difference in our corner of the world.

By the way, the woman and kids I speak of were not white. In a way I think that makes her racism worse. This is one reason that kkkarl and his ilk have always been so successful when they stir up the racial hatreds of their base and others who they have managed to keep in fear. I know that I won't live to see an end of racism. i hope my son does, but I'm not that naive. But we do have to hope and strive. Otherwise, what's the point? Some may say that there is no hope, but I refuse to believe that, if for no other reason than the political motivations of those who want us to not hope.

Anyway, that's my little story. Feedback welcome, but not required.

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bliss_eternal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 12:06 AM
Response to Original message
1. Hi MarianJack--
Edited on Tue Jul-11-06 12:08 AM by bliss_eternal
I'm curious,...did this encounter spur a discussion with your son about racial predjudice? Or did you guys feel it wasn't warranted? Not being a parent (yet), I'm always curious when "the talk" should take place? Or if it's a gradual thing that one constantly talks about in stages, at various times so the child learns about it throughout their life and knows what to look for?

I'm very sorry to hear that he encountered such ignorance at such a tender age. From well over 3000 miles away, I wis I could shield him from it, too. :grouphug:
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MarianJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 07:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. We haven't spoken of racism yet,...
...but we will soon.

He had no clue as to what happened. Fortunately it was at a crowded pool on a summer afternoon when kids come and go. In his innocense he saw nothing. But we did.
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AspenRose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-19-06 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
3. You may want to consider having 'the talk'
But in an age-appropriate way, and with a positive spin so that he understands that it's THEIR loss if people choose to miss out on what a wonderful person he is.

I'm sure the AMEA has resources available to help with teaching kids stuff like that. (Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans)
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Sanctified Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-13-07 10:10 PM
Response to Original message
4. I had a similar situation happen recently with my daughter who is four.
She was playing with some friends at the ice skating rink when a new child arrived and started to make fun of her because she looked different. She came to my wife and I crying, we basically told her to suck it up and ignore the other girl and to keep playing with her friends. It was hard to do but it's something that my wife and I agreed upon doing before we even had children, we did not want our children growing up with the idea that the world was fair and that they would never be victimized by racists, we hope that this will make them stronger and give them the will to stand up to anything life throws at them.
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