The other day in class, Jayden's friends were playing "brothers" (no clue what that is and neither did he) and two of his friends said of course he could play with them, while the fourth kid told him that he couldn't play "because he was black". Without a call from the teacher, I only had Jayden's story to go on, but I wrote her a note to ask for more information. Her message back was that "it was being monitored" and she had discussed it with the boys. Was that enough? Had the other parents been called? I was pretty sure they weren't. Was this a classroom issue or one that both parents should have been privy to? If I were that little boy's parents, I would be VERY interested in the chance to make sure my son was given the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson in equality. It seemed like this issue was not treated with the seriousness that I felt it should be.
|photo credit: Presstv.ir|
Race, colour, difference and even prejudice are topics in our house and it's amazing how instantly, my sweet seven year old knew that what his friend said, was racism. He told his friend it was wrong to say that and it hurt his feelings. I'm so proud that he stood up for himself and that he worked to solve the issue with his friend, but would any real changes have been made in the classroom?
Jayden knows what racism means, we've talked about it often. We have visited the place where Martin Luther King said his 'I Have a Dream" speech. The one where the vision of black and white kids playing together WAS the dream. The vision of a better world, where kids looked beyond colour. We've seen photos of white and "coloured" water fountains and we celebrate Black History Month where we can talk about civil rights, how far the world has come and how far it obviously still needs to go. We often talk about what racism truly means. If someone mentions that you have brown skin, that's okay, because for kids it's like noticing blond hair and blue eyes. But if that colour of hair, eyes or skin means you don't get to do something, get left out or you are treated differently, that's racism. It's fairly simple and our kids are so clear about how they want to be treated. On that day in the class room, Jayden was not treated fairly, solely based on the colour of his beautiful skin.
We struggle with identity in our house. Our boys are brown a beautiful blend of their parents but are they white? Black? Being biracial, actually means that you are seen as black in the world- that's the truth. When you aren't white, you are black. Just look at Obama. The first "black" president, even though he is also of mixed race.
Our world often makes no sense to me and to our boys, sometimes. But we try to create an environment where our kids can be honest, talk about race openly, embrace and celebrate it. I can only hope that Jayden's new teacher can also see this opportunity as a chance to talk about diversity, different types of families, seeing people for who they are and not their skin colour and ultimately encourage acceptance and inclusion for all the kids.