Heartbroken about racism. (don't know where this goes, seemed like a place to start) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 08-15-2012, 11:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have no idea if I handled this right.  I am upset that I even have to explain this to innocent minds in 2012.

 

Tiny bit of background to our family--I'm white, DH is from Sudan.  He has lived most of his adult life outside of Sudan, so he has experience that I don't have being in the minority. 

 

We live in an apt. complex.  It's many buildings that form a square.  The norm is that kids play outside in the square and adults check on them.  I can see most of the area my kids play in from my windows.  I watch more than many here who live in the back apartments and can't see the front area where the kids gather.  I'll add that between my mom and I and having a toddler, my kids have an adult physically outside about 80% of the time.  Which is more than most of the kids here.

Including the neighbor I'm about to mention, who is *rarely* actually outside when I see her kids out in the 'gathering area'.

 

My kids used to play with this neighbor's kids.  They were invited to a bouncy house party and into a little pool they had last summer.  I KNOW nothing happened in either place because I was there.

 

Last fall, this woman told my mother my son's health issues were due to his mixed race.  I chalked that one up to being uneducated and making a comment without thinking.

 

Then last winter, someone called the cops on a visitor of theirs whose dogs got loose and were acting aggressive in the square--where many kids were playing, including mine who'd been outside all of 10 minutes at the most.  This neighbor brought the cop to MY door and blamed MY kids out of the probably dozen who were outside, said they opened the door of the vehicle the dogs were in.  These dogs had my kids cornered on our patio when I pulled them inside.  I'm not the one who called, the police showed up while I was comforting them.

 

Since that day, I've told my kids they're not to go any closer to the building they live in than walking on the sidewalk that runs in front of it and they're not to so much as *look at* her kids.

 

Well, they're kids, and it was a nice evening tonight, so *everybody's* kids were outside.  I walked something out to my van, and my daughter comes up with this neighbor kid, DD and I talk, and I head inside with stuff from the van to go in the house. 

 

I'm inside about two minutes when my kids come crying inside saying that this kid's dad is going to call the police on them and 3 other neighbor kids. Just so happens all 5 of these children, like probably the majority in this area actually, are um, is "children of color" an OK word?  I *know* my kids' ethnicity, I won't swear to anyone else's other than to say obviously non-majority race. They swear they didn't do anything, and stuck to that story even when I said it would be better for them if I heard  "anything I might need to know" from THEM rather than an officer.  (Older one is almost 8, he understands)  In the end, no officer actually showed up.

 

However, I told them *again* that they are NOT to play with these children.  And this is the part I don't know if I got it right, and it broke my heart to tell them...but this is what I feel the truth is in this situation.  I told them it does not matter if they did anything or not, some people do not like other people simply because they are  a different color.  And now that we can see that these children's parents appear to hold that opinion, we need to stay away from them.  I always specifically tell them that they're NOT to be mean to anyone.  I mean that they are to stay away--if those kids are playing with one of their friends, they play with somebody else.  If they're in a certain area playing, my kids are to play somewhere else.  Avoid trouble.  And if they ever run across a situation where these kids are causing problems for them anyway, they are to come home.  I thought maybe I'd have to give them this education when they were old enough to "drive while black" or shop alone or something.  Not at almost 6 and 8 years old, where it hasn't occured to them yet to choose their friends by any other criterion than "kids who share" and "kids who don't hit".

 

I HOPE that the lesson that's getting across is that there are plenty of other people to interact with in the world who are accepting and it's just not worth the time to waste on those who aren't.  I just want to move.  For many reasons that have nothing to do with this neighbor, because I know there will be people like them everywhere.  That's why I can't blow this...they have to learn how to deal with it.  It just breaks my heart that I'm already having to explain this...


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#2 of 8 Old 08-16-2012, 07:18 AM
 
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i am sorry. i don't have any advice but i do hear you.
 


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#3 of 8 Old 08-17-2012, 10:32 AM
 
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My children (black/white) are grown--in their 20's and 30's, so my experience is much older.  But, yes, it happens. Actually, dd and I were in an antique store in metro Kansas City yesterday.  A black man was also shopping and we exchanged pleasantries with him. As we were checking out (around  $200 in purchases), the proprietor left us and walked to the man and said, "What are you looking for?" The man answered, "I am browsing."  The proprietor stared him down, then came back to finish checking us out. The man left and the proprietor nearly broke his neck making sure the guy hadn't taken anything--watched him all the way to the car!!! It was definitely racial.  I hated making my purchases from this guy--but we were getting antique baby dresses and quilts (we collect both) and really wanted the items.  My dd, who now lives in Michigan, said, "Mom, it's been a while since I hit that kind of blatant racism.  Michigan is so nice!"  And, yes, Kansas is bad in many ways.

 

I always explained stuff to my kids.  They knew about racism at a much younger age than yours--by age 5 or so, I'd told them what to do in certain situations.  I always told them I was black in my heart--just like daddy--and was white only on the outside.  And that we were all exactly alike, even though people might think we were different based on our complexions. Keep them away from the neighbors--and keep your eyes open in order to protect them. Call the apartment  staff it it keeps happening--you're in the right, you know.

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#4 of 8 Old 08-17-2012, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You're right, I can't pretend it doesn't exist.  I'd like to.  Also, last winter, with the dog incident, the officer who came interrupted my husband and refused to hear what he had to say.  He was *attempting* to ask what proof they had that my kids did this.  I *want* to believe that this officer saw that my neighbor was going to come interrupt our Sunday with or without him and his insistence on telling him that there was no real trouble was an attempt to stop an argument between us and the neighbor, but there's a part of me that sees a cop not wanting to listen to a black man whose first language is not English.  (He speaks and understands well, but has an obvious accent.  I realize I'm used to it, but I don't notice others having problems communicating with him.)

 

 

Maybe that's my deal right there.  I don't want to see it because if I see it, then I've either got to do something about it or feel guilty that I didn't do something about it.

 

Or, in the case of these particular neighbors and the apartment complex...if I go to the management, it becomes a bunch of he-said, she-said.  Doesn't help that I have observed some things that suggest the manager would favor the neighbors.  (things that unfortunately, I can't prove, so it doesn't matter.)

 

The only thing I can do is be present.  That way, hopefully I DON'T have to deal with this again, because we'll avoid these neighbors like the plague.  My kids will get that I mean business on who they can and can't play with.  And I will tell them why.  What's the worst that'll happen, is this neighbor really going to come complain to me that my kids told her kids I said she's racist?  Then don't blame my son's illness on the color of his skin and don't send a cop to my door to divert attention from the fact that your friend neglected her animals.  (Did I mention it was the middle of winter when this happened?  It was cold, and these animals were left in a van while their human visited a friend.)


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#5 of 8 Old 08-18-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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Your kids will experience it again, I am sorry to say. Talk to them about it in terms that is right for their ages. And keep them the hell away from those crappy neighbors.
 


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#6 of 8 Old 08-18-2012, 01:40 PM
 
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Just info--two of the best books I've ever read about race/culture/family are these:

 

Black,White,Other by Lisa Funderburg

 

Intercultural Marriage by Dugan Romano

 

My husband was West Indian. We met and married in the early 1970's.  He died almost 15 years ago.  The children are grown and living their own intercultural/interracial lives now--no grandchildren yet, though I keep making baby quilts in hopes of some little ones soon!!!!  I'm always available to listen.  Hang in there--your life takes courage but the blessings are many. 

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#7 of 8 Old 08-18-2012, 09:10 PM
 
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My kids are black (well three of them) and i think you did fine. Knowledge is power and they need to know how serious it is to avoid those neighbors. I had to have a conversation with my 10 yr old about the sex offender living down the street and why she is to never go inside that home. I dont think she would have taken me as seriously if i wasnt truthful about the WHY of it.

 

Luckily we have not encountered much racism except for one incident at a local park with another child telling my daughter he didnt want to play with her because of her skin color. At least the other white children were up in arms about what he said. I'd only been my child's mother for a few weeks at that point so i was totally unsure how to handle it other than telling her to avoid that boy.


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#8 of 8 Old 08-30-2012, 11:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ian'smommaya View Post

Your kids will experience it again, I am sorry to say. Talk to them about it in terms that is right for their ages. And keep them the hell away from those crappy neighbors.
 

indeed.  they may not understand it, but you do.  our first job is to defend against foolishness.  this, my friend, is foolishness.  i would talk with them about ignorance on an age-appropriate level and remind them that there are a bunch of people out there who love them and want to play. just not these people.


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