Colorful Conversations

"I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality."  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wonder if my daughter is racist.

I have no reason to suspect she is. I am just wondering in general. From what I know she grew up in a predominately white middle to upper class town.  Her college website states that 21-26% of the student body are “persons of color”.

I am just like, you know, wondering. Her pictures on facebook and flickr reflect predominately white friends . I also have reason to believe that her parents may be slightly racist. What are her views?  We confirmed years ago with are both liberal, agnostic, democrats.  I don’t recall ever discussing racism.

I am thinking of this because last night my oldest son and I had this conversation.

“I almost got into a fight today, Ma. I really wanted to beat a kid up” says Nikolas.

“Oh?” I try to respond with very little shock even though I am a bit shocked. My son has never had a school fight. I don’t think he has even hit his brother. He is a very even keeled child, very much a pacifist. I am surprised by the “beat a kid up” comment.

“Yeah, someone was really mean to my friend Keevon.” He continues.

“What happened?” I inquire.

“Well, Keevon and I were at lunch, and this new kid, I don’t remember his name, was looking for a place to sit.  One of the teachers told the kid to sit down next to Keevon who was sitting next to me.” he answers.

“Uh, huh..and?” I ask.

“Well, the kid did not look happy but he sat down next to Keevon and then said, really mean, to Keevon, I don’t want to sit next to you because you are black. You are black and nasty. ” my son reports.

I gasp.  What the hell? Who is this kid? I think I want to beat him up too!

“What did Keevon say or do?” I ask.

“He did nothing Mom. He just turned the other way, looked down and started talking to me. But I know his feelings were hurt.”  notes my darling son.

“Wow. That’s rough. Did you tell a teacher or something? What would they tell you in I/I? How should you handle that?”  I ask.

I/I is his inter/intra-personal skills class which is taught as part of the standard curriculum in a Gardner school. The I/I class teaches children to be “self smart and people smart”. They often discuss ethics, problem solving, social values and attitudes.

“Well, I am not going to be friends with that kid. I don’t know who he is and I don’t want to know. I heard he came from a boarding school. I bet they threw him out.  I am also going to tell Mrs. D about it. Maybe we can discuss it in I/I class.   But I don’t want to embarrass Keevon.  We are reading this book right now about two girls, a white girl and a black girl who live next door to each other but their moms won’t let them be friends so they talk to each other through a fence. That kid being mean to Keevon kinda reminded me of the moms in that book” he says as he looks away.

“I think that sounds like a good plan.  You are a good friend to Keevon” I say.

He smiles at me.

“Oh, and I love you. You are a great kid. I am proud to be your Mom” I say.

4 Thoughts.

  1. Well, I got all snotty on myself over here. I hope my oldest son is as loving as yours. (Because right now he is a HOLY TERROR OF CAPS LOCK YELLING.)

  2. And that you should be of that little freckled face little sweetheart! Proud of how you and his father have raised him. Bravo honey, Bravo!
    Mo xoxox

  3. What a great kid your son is – good on him! I hope he does bring this to a teacher as a possible discussion topic in his I/I class. I’m sure the teacher could find a way to raise it without tying it back to the specific incident. Because the only way the obnoxious kid that made that comment is going to wise up is if his peers show him his behavior and attitudes are wrong.

  4. Wow, I can only imagine how proud you must be of your son! I’m just so wonderfully impressed 🙂 Great job you’ve done!!!
    I remember the first time I met D, I so desperately wanted to know some of the deeper “who she is” stuff, that you can’t just ask a person…”So, do you consider yourself a racist?” Probably wouldn’t go over to well, and someone that WAS wouldn’t exactly say, “You know it!” I pray pray pray that my daughter will be raised to have the convictions of your son.

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