I took 4 10 year old boys to the amusement park today:
DS (African American, adopted at birth by a white single mom -- me)
BF (DS's best friend for the past 7 years, white. He's in DS's school but not class, and on DS's soccer team, very much the leader of the group)
SF (School friend, another white child who attends DS's school, is in BF's class and is friends with both of them)
NF (Neighborhood friend or maybe New Friend, plays on DS and BF's soccer team, goes to a different school. American born of Ethiopian descent, had never met SF before, pretty shy kid).
At one point the 4 boys decided to play a game that involves team on this big playground they have. SF asked BF to be a team with him, and BF agreed. DS was a little hurt. I know that he wanted BF to be his teammate (he's a little territorial about him). But that wouldn't have made sense at all since SF and NF had just met and hadn't really "clicked" yet.
So, as far as I can tell (I didn't hear the beginning of the conversation), DS turned to BF and said "we can't make our teams like that, that would be racist".
Now, I believe in teaching my child to be aware of racism, and to stand up for himself when he sees it. But I just didn't see it here. What I saw was SF asking someone he knows well to be on his team -- nothing more or less. I also know that "racist" is a really hurtful term. I've been called racist, and even though I knew that in the situation it was used, the behavior that was being referred to had nothing to do with race, I was still really hurt.
Any suggestions on how to talk to DS about this. I did step in at the time and say "I don't see the racism here, if SF asked BF to be on his team because he wanted to be with another white person that would be racist, but I'm guessing that SF asked BF to be on his team because BF runs fast or is fun to play with or is someone SF knows and is comfortable with. Just like on the way here you chose to sit next to NF in the van, not because he's got brown skin but because he's fun to talk to."
Would you follow up on this?