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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

When did you learn how to hate?

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.

Link up with our hosts Heather and Megan


The Queen said...

I am so proud of you for this post. It is an ugly reality of this world and sin within it. I feel so fortunate that we had examples of hard work, excellence and understanding that 100% is not enough.

Without going into a political rant, that belongs on another blog. I'm sad that the first Black president has created more not less pain because he had no business being in office in the first place (AND RACE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT - QUALIFICATION AND EXPERIENCE, PEOPLE!).

Boomer will learn and thrive because she has a family who loves her and will help her navigate this world with God's guidance.

callie ;) said...

i second regina's post about how boomer will learn and thrive because of YOU and the example you and your mother set for her. good on you for being people she can look up to.

it devastates me that people still harbor these thoughts today. i will never understand people who are biased against others solely because of the way they look.

now, unruly kids in restaurants...i can understand hating on that. hehe. ;)

Unknown said...


MHM1314 said...

There's a song from South Pacific called "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught". The words are ringing so sadly true after reading your beautiful post. Nobody is born prejudiced or full of hate.

You've got to be taught To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught From year to year,
It's got to be drummed In your dear little ear,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

beckyj @ A Lazy Crazy Life said...

Wow, I'm so sorry, especially since your daughter had to learn an unfortunately harsh reality at such a young age :( But it sounds like you and your mom handled it well. Teachable moment, indeed. Good for you!

Karen M. Peterson said...

I think it's hard for me to understand that these things still happen because I grew up in Southern California. I know we still have race issues here, too, but they're totally different from other places.

I have been in situations, though, where I was in a neighborhood or whatever and got the stares or the negative treatment because I was "peach", so I have a tiny, tiny, tiny smidgen of understanding what that feels like. It's very uncomfortable and I wish no one had to experience it anywhere.

Heather @ Cookies For Breakfast said...

And I cried.

I honestly have no words. This is the most touching post ever, and I cannot even gather myself to explain how I feel. I am sickened beyond belief that this happens in this day in age - and especially, to a friend. And a child. I just don't understand. I think I was naive enough to think stuff like this didn't happen anymore. I mean, I've seen awful graphics like the ones you show here, and heard people making racist jokes/comments before, but I never ever would have thought people would act like THAT to another person, let alone in front of an innocent (and adorable) child. It is just unconscionable and disgusting. Like, people actually BELIEVE this sh**? That it actually matters what someone LOOKS like on the outside? And that's a reason to judge them?!?!

I am so sorry, beyond sorry, that you and your mom and Boomer had to experience this. It's wrong on every possible horrible level. Like you said to your "peeps" about getting it together, I'd like to say that to mine. These are an embarrassment to the human race.


Unknown said...

It breaks my heart that your daughter had to observe the ignorance of the couple in the restaurant. In 2013, I'd like to think that if I have children they won't have to deal with being followed around in the store or ill treated by strangers simply because of their skin color. However, it is 2013, and racism still exist. People who have been taught racist ideals just do a better job of hiding it than they did 40 years ago. I'm glad that your mother was there to help in that teachable moment, as we must teach our children about the positives and negatives of the world in a beneficial manner. I really appreciate your courage to share this incident!

Gracey the Giant said...

This was wonderful to read but sad as well. I am mixed black and white & clearly remember incidents like this from my childhood. Back then biracial couples and children were more rare (my sisters and I and one other boy in the whole school through high school) & we definitely received comments and looks. I don't have kids of my own so I wasn't aware how it currently was. I guess I was hoping the world had matured since then. I'm sad that it hasn't.

Kaitlyn - said...

As a new mom this was powerful to read. I just had a discussion with my husband tonight about tolerance and respecting people's differences and how important it is that our daughter learns this. Thankfully your daughter has a mother that will teach her these things as well. Thank you for sharing :)

Saucy Siciliana said...

You won't believe it but there is a lot of racism here in Sicily too. My husband is Japanese and Sicilians so open-minded as you can imagine. I was born here and I'm half-Sicilian (the other half is Russian) but they still look at me funny. By the way, don't worry, I am not insulted, on the contrary I am flattered. You thought I'm the 40s. No, I'm much older than that...I'm 61. Thank you for stopping by. I am following you immediately. Happy easter!