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Archive for January 13th, 2012

So, it is a sad day.  It is a sad day that I knew would come one day.  It came yesterday.  My son has received his first experiences of what it means to be black in this country.  My son is in sixth grade and I recently discovered that a kid in his school has been using racial slurs against him.  The situation makes me sad, angry, and unfortunately, unsurprised.  I knew this day would come, and quite frankly I am more surprised that it hasn’t happened earlier.

We had a conversation with my son last night.  Talked to him about some of my own experiences, and gave him some advice on how to handle this situation in the future.  We also told him that he is a great kid and let him know how much we love him.  Other than that, I wasn’t exactly sure what to say.  My first reaction was to advise him to kick the kid’s ass.  I told him this, but informed him that I was not completely sure that was the best advice.  We did advise him to make it clear to the kid that he was not someone to be messed with, but to do so within the confines of his comfort level.  At the end of the day, we settled on informing the teacher if an incident happened again.

Whether or not we handled the situation perfectly as parents remains to be seen, but the situation saddens me.  It leaves me with this simple lesson to all parents that might read my blog:  Teach your kids to NOT be racists.  How else do kids learn these types of repulsive behaviors?  If you are a parent and you are reading this blog, and you are thinking, “My kid would never use racial slurs against another person.”  My question to you is, “How do you know?”  Have you talked about racism to your kids?  Have you discussed the reality of differences and the fact that these differences are to NOT be ignored, but respected.  Never say to me, “I don’t see color.”  We all see color and just because you don’t have a white hood in your closet does not mean that you have not treated or reacted differently to someone simply because of the color of their skin.  And trust me, although you did not recognize it, the other person did.

I am not looking for white guilt, and I am certainly not looking to encourage you to find your local minority and give them a hug.  I would hate that.  Give me and others like me, the same respect, attention, acknowledgement, and subtle reactions as you would give anyone else.  Do your best.  You will make mistakes, but when you do, apologize for it and keep trying.  Don’t sweep this under the rug.  Don’t ignore it.  We are ALL racially biased, and until we acknowledge this fact within ourselves, we will never change.  But most of all, teach your kids these lessons.  They will not learn them if you don’t.  Teach your kids to defend these principles.  Silence is the same as endorsement.  This is true of all ages.  Do not accept racist behavior in your presence.

I am sad.  I am angry.  My son is awesome and nothing nor anyone will take that away, but he has been scarred.  And as someone who knows exactly what it feels like to be attacked because of the color of my skin, it is a scar that never heals.

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If you’re a parent, talk to your kids about racism.  You might think that they would never get a racial bias from you, but if they get it from somewhere else, are you going to know?  And more importantly, will you do anything about it?  I’m just sayin …

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