Tuesday

Racy or racing maybe racist

…racing or racist

I’m pretty sure I’m a racist. I’ve tried really hard not to judge others by race—to accept everybody on their own merits. I like to think that because I know people who know people who are a different color, it somehow rubs off on me. But in reality, I still find myself judging by appearance and racing down the easy road.

To:
My four-year-old and I were at the library. I was at the automated checkout, while my son rooted through the shelves randomly reorganizing the books. If they totally automate the librarian, they won’t have any trouble duplicating that cold, robotic look you get when your child does that.
[1] More later, T.


I think most everybody is racist to some extent—I do catch a talk-show now and then. We racists come in every color shape and size. You think not? I think thou doth protest too much

To:
I’m back. Anyway, my little na├»ve four-year-old comes screaming to me yelling, “There’s a monster. There’s a monster.” He drags me back across the room and points up at the one black man in the room. I am instantly changed into a bottom-feeder, slithering around on my belly, out of my element and gasping for air.
…gone again, back soon, T.

It’s hard when kids make rude—albeit valid assessments in the grocery store and call people fat or ugly within their hearing. You realize that it’s a teaching moment and hope fervently that it is a stranger to whom the remarks are directed. Then you can respond with a mother’s wisdom and teach a community lesson. “It’s important for a compassionate and polite society… How would you feel if…” you explain. And then you try to make up and move on, with firm, new resolve to strangle the child when you get home.

To:
This is just like the time when the neighborhood giant drops by with his son, normally sweet, but he’s just entered that obnoxious ten-year old phase. The child shuffles into the entry and stands next to his father.
I didn’t realize my three-year old son was standing behind me gathering his nerve until he dashes out to stand in front of the boy, glares up and declares, “My Mother says you’re a jerk.”
It was another of those seemingly endless one-minute eons. My mind raced. I did think he was a jerk. I had used those very words to soothe my toddler after heart-hurt run-ins with the boy.
My mistake had been to voice my opinion within earshot. So I muttered, “Yes, I did. I do…think you’re a jerk.” And I dwindled the ending down to a slight whisper.
Then in a restorative flash, I spoke loudly, and redirected the conversation ceiling-ward to the subject of their visit and eventually they left.
Then I moved and so it’s all fine now. You know? T.

But the statement at the library? On the scale, this one was huge. It bore all kinds of ramifications. I’m sure the man was thinking, “What kind of a person are you? What do you teach your child? How can he have just noticed a black person? Are you living in a hole, or just a segregated neighborhood from the fifties? I pointed to a child that I hoped was the man’s, “No, honey, he’s a daddy just like your daddy.”

I wanted the man to initiate a conversation with my child, as reinforcement. He could assure my son that he wasn’t a monster, and then he could assure me that he didn’t hate me for secluding my child so this problem even existed.
It must be difficult to go about life thinking that you have to spend all your time educating the idiots of society. But he does, I need him to be that connection, to relate, commensurate with and teach my children.

To: wholefamily@time.out
“Yup, you are racist. Don’t worry, everybody is in some way. Deal with it and move on,”
I’m reassured by my fourteen-year-old Jamaican-Chinese-White neighbor. Her four-year-old twin sisters insist that each is more beautiful than the other because of the difference in the color of their skin. Whew! Terina


Reality Bite: Maybe I’m not racist? A true racist would have assured the four year old that he was right.

[1] My mother and mother-in-law are both librarians. I’m going to catch it for that one.