Where Mom unleashes the inner monologue.

The HUMAN Race

on April 7, 2014

I was watching Katie Couric’s show and she was talking about racism today.  It saddens me that we still have to have this conversation.  What also gets me upset is a conversation I overheard between mother and child.  It gives the perfect example for why we still have a problem and will continue to unless we change the way we view things, because in the end, that alters the view our children have as well.

I was walking around in the store with my son when I stopped to look at an item.  A mother and child walked by and they were talking about the child’s day at school.  It was a great conversation until I heard the next part.  The mother was asking about who the child was playing with and asked, “What about that little black boy, you know, *insert name here*”  The child responded and they walked on their way.  I had to stop myself from following after them.  If she knew that child’s name, why was the “black boy” part necessary?  That just teaches the child that their skin color is an identifying feature, something that’s different and should be remarked on.

I grew up in a town, elementary years, that was pretty equally proportioned between Caucasian and African American.  I don’t remember ever dawning on the fact that people treated others differently because of their skin until I saw it happen when I got a little older.  I was flabbergasted.  I couldn’t figure out why someone would treat people that had been my best friends different than me because I was white and they were African American.  Children are not born racist, they see it and emulate it.  And it doesn’t even have to be hate.  If you make skin color a defining feature of someone’s identity instead of their personality and qualities, your children will continue to do the same.  This will teach them that race makes a difference.

My oldest son came home from daycare one day and said “*child’s name* is brown, Mom.”  Once again, I stopped and just stared at him for a moment.  I realized he wasn’t commenting on his race and didn’t understand what he was talking about, he just noticed that this child’s skin was different from his own.  This was a moment I had been worried about.  I had always wondered what he would do when he realized that people had different skin colors.  There have always been mixed races in his classes and I was waiting, worried, for the day he would realize that their skin was different from his.  I was more worried about how I would explain to him that there is no difference between him and the other children, at least not because of their skin.  So I looked at him and said all I could think to say.  “It’s OK, baby.  It’s only a skin color.  He’s still your friend and he’s no different from you.  Everyone’s different in some way, sometimes it’s skin, or what foods someone likes, or who they pray to, but they’re still a person, just like you.”  He just said “OK” and went on about his business.  I don’t think he truly understood what I was saying (I mean, he’s three, what can you expect?), but I’m hoping that by reinforcing those facts over time, that a person is a person, no matter what, and should be treated with the same respect as everyone else, will help him grow to be a man that doesn’t see skin color as a major difference.  That it will help him to be color blind, as we all should be.  I’m hoping that my boys will grow up to love the HUMAN race, because we are all a part of it, each and every skin tone.


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