We all know that racism is thriving in our society. Since the dawn of civilization racism of one form or another has plagued mankind. According to Wiki “racism is the belief that there are inherent differences in people’s traits and capacities which are entirely due to their race, and which justify those people being treated differently, both socially and legally.” Please, people of the same race can be inherently different depending on any number of factors. This belief that all members of a particular race possess the same characteristics, abilities or qualities that make the entire race either inferior and subordinate or superior with the right to rule or dominate others is a bunch of bull! You can’t make simplistic generalizations about a particular group and apply it to everyone in the group. It’s just plain wrong not to mention completely inaccurate.
People are people damn it! Race, creed, color, descent, national or ethnic origin, mean absolutely nothing in the big scheme of things. What matters is our capacity to get along with one another, our capacity to love and respect our fellow man. When I was young my mother (at least I think it was my mother) alway told me how important it was to get along with everyone. “We live in a rainbow world,” she would say, “the different colors come together to form something so beautiful.” I never fully understood what she meant until I was much older and experienced prejudice for the first time. But she was right, we do live in a rainbow world. Only the different colors are the many different cultures and ethnicities that make up our society. A beautiful rainbow world! If only…
With that said let me tell you a little story. a true story.
Racism is alive and well in La Verne and recently reared its ugly head in of all place, my seven year old granddaughter’s second grade classroom. Sadly, she had her first encounter with racism. No, last Friday was not a particularly good day for my little Anjalene. A boy in her class went off on her and another student and made hurtful, racial remarks to them about their ethnicity.
You see my Anjalene is biracial. Multiracial children are one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population. Nearly two million American children have parents of different races. Anjalene’s father is African American and her mother is both Anglo American and Mexican American. If you really want to break it down my granddaughter’s heritage is a mix of German, Irish, Swedish, Spanish, French, and Mexican on mom’s side and Creole on dad’s side. Creole which means ‘people of color’ is made up of New World People of West African and European decent usually French or Spanish and may also have Native American ancestry.
Unfortunately after this incident my daughter and son in law had to sit down and have a talk with Anjalene, broaching a subject that they had never felt the need to talk about before. They had to try to explain why the boy had said such hurtful things to her, but worse they had to explain the concept of race and skin tone to her. How do you explain the concept of race, color or a multiracial heritage to a seven year old child? How do you tell them about racism? You shouldn’t have to, but they had to. It was the first time my granddaughter heard that she is African American, The first time she heard that she is black. Sadly, in those few minutes that little boy caused my granddaughter’s childhood to change forever and she was forced to grow up a little sooner than expected in regards to racism.
And what of this seven year old boy. Where did he learn to distinguish between skin color? Who taught him the racist things he said about ‘black’ people? What of his parents? What kind of an example have they set? The school handled things well, they stepped in right away and called my daughter to explain the situation, and talked to my granddaughter and other victim, but the damage had already been done. The boy was suspended, but he’s been suspended before. Can you imagine, a second grader and already suspended from school twice! Not a very good beginning. But he’ll be back soon and the threat of more racial remarks lingers. It all depends on how his parents handle the situation, but if they are the role models from who he learned this behavior, they may not do anything. In fact they might be a bit (God forbid) proud of their little boy. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
A child’s world should be free of such things. Theirs should be an adventure full of fun and games, little brothers and sisters, pets school and learning! playing and things that make them giggle and laugh out loud! Helping mom in the kitchen or dad in the yard, chasing butterflies praying to Jesus and family movie nights. There is no place for racism or prejudice in a child’s world. It is after all, a beautiful rainbow world full of bright and magnificent colors! Unfortunately there are those who only see the world in black and white… their loss…
Love you Anjalene!
J S (aka Grandpa)