I would like to come back from my blog hiatus with something light and funny.
Maybe a post about what the trends for spring are....
Perhaps another Sh*t Boomer Says post for mommy confessions. I'm still linking up today because I need to share this and its a confession of sorts.
Something happened to me last night though that is weighing heavy on my mind. In my off line life I've always written about things that matter to me, things that effect me, and my real thoughts and feelings. Why should my blog be any different?
When did you figure out you weren't the same as everyone around you?
For Boomer it was right around 3/4 years old. She was drawing picture of her friend and had laid out different colors of crayons. She asked me to read her the names of the colors.
'Oh Momma! Mason is peach, and I'm tan, and I want to make Chris burnt sienna, and my teacher is apricot.'
She realized that yes, she and all her friends were different colors, but she was excited about all the varying shades of brown, tan, and peach.
She's almost 7 years old and still refers to Caucasian people as 'peach.'
Last night we went out to dinner with my mom. As Boomer and I sat down I noticed the couple across from us shooting disgusted looks our way. I brushed it off. I used to give people with children a similar eye roll I'm sure. No one wants to be seated next to a screaming kid, throwing their vegetables all over the floor. I know my daughter is well behaved, and often charms those seated around her with her quick wit, humor, and sweet nature so I wasn't worried at all.
Then my mother came to the table from the restroom, where she had stopped first, and she also received the same disgusted look. My heart sank a little. I knew now the woman had no issue with the fact that there was a child at the table, but merely with the fact that she was seated near us.
The looks continued throughout dinner. Boomer was her sweet, generally well behaved self, and there were several other children in the dining room, as this is a family restaurant. None of those tables got any of the dirty looks that we did.
Finally it was time for us to leave. We collected our things and I helped Boomer with her coat. Then I heard the woman, clearly and loudly say 'Oh thank God, they're going.'
In 10 seconds my emotions ran the gamut. I was enraged, I was hurt, I felt sorry FOR HER, and fiercely protective of my child. I ushered Boomer quickly to the check out and I knew my mother was behind me. When we had rounded the corner I asked my mom if she had heard what the woman said? She hadn't so I repeated it.
Now you all should know something about my mother. While she is the epitome of a lady, she is not one to take anything lying down. I remember an instance when I was little where we were followed around a store by SEVERAL store clerks. My mother in her very polite and well spoken way, explained to me loudly enough that not only those clerks but the other patrons of the store could hear, that some people automatically assume that simply because of the color of your skin you're a criminal. She then went to the manager of the store and explained that she had planned to spend a great deal of money on my back to school shopping that day, but that she would now be taking her purchase elsewhere because, 'my dollars are the same shade of green as everyone else's.' (This was not the first, or last time something like this would happen.)
After I repeated what the woman had said, my mother just shook her head. I told the cashier what had happened and she was appalled. She apologized and I told her it wasn't her fault at all. She said 'Its a shame that some people just don't have manners.'
When we got in the car, Boomer asked me, 'Why didn't that lady like us? Is it because we're brown and she's peach?"
"Yes, baby something like that."
"But mommy, I have lots of friends that are that color. Gran Gran is that color."
"I know. Not everyone feels the way that she does, but some people do"
I had to stop and get gas and when I peaked in the car I noticed that my mom and Boomer were praying. Mom later told me that they were praying for the woman in the restaurant.
I'm glad that my mom is around to have those teachable moments with Boomer.
I'm at a loss though. How do you explain to a 6 year old that the rules are different for her because of how she looks? That people will assume she is a thief in a store simply because she is 'tan'. That she has to be careful of how she carries herself in certain situations lest she be considered an 'angry black woman'.
I remember when I was a sophomore in high school (2001), one of my class mates tried to convince me that racism didn't exist anymore. I invited him to go shopping with me.
Then following the election of Barack Obama, a girl friend of mine who is Caucasian told me 'Look Whit, we don't have a race issue in America anymore!' I showed her this.
Then I showed her this.
Yes......clearly race is no longer an issue.
Then I get angry with my own 'people'. What the hell is wrong with you that you perpetuate every possible negative stereotype about black people. Pull your pants up! Get an education! Take care of your children! Hold yourself accountable! Stop blaming 'the man' for your problems and take some ownership of them! Our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents worked SO HARD for us to have the opportunities we now take for granted. I think its safe to say that so many of them would be ashamed of the way the community is today.
I'm sure this post has made some of you uncomfortable. Or has upset you. Good. When it happened I was uncomfortable and upset. I don't want Boomer to learn hate when things like this happen to her. At the same time I wonder when that woman and her husband learned to hate. Because it is absolutely something we learn. If you put a toddlers in a room together they all play happily. They don't care that Bobby is White, and Mellisa is Asian, or that Shelly is Black, and Al is Middle Eastern. We LEARN to hate one another. Be so careful what you are teaching.