Friday, June 2, 2017

Mississippi is still burning

After watching a news report about a noose that was left at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, my friend had to explain to her 8 year old son the historic meaning behind a noose. She wrote that his eyes filled with tears and he struggled to understand why black people were treated differently.

It led to a discussion with other friends about color blindness in children. I think that it is beautiful that children seem to be color blind, but it is also naive to be color blind when there is so much inequality still around us based on the color of someone's skin. I just wish that children could be innocent longer before we are forced to tell them about the world but the fact is that this racism is not usually in your face like a noose, or all of the recent "alt-right" attacks on foreigners and minorities. Racism can enter our lives early through seemingly innocuous acts that become normalized. Take my other friend who visited her daughter's daycare and was devastated to discover that her vivacious, talkative child was quiet and always lined up at the back of the queue to go out, and took her blanket to the outer edge of the group during nap time. I'm pretty sure that the teachers didn't overtly tell her that black kids were to be treated differently but somehow the four year old had figured out her place through social cues from the adults around her.

I remember watching a teenage classmate pat my sister on the head like a dog and tell her how cute she was. They were both high school seniors and this girl talked to my sister like she was something other. The worst part was that Samantha H probably thought that she was paying my sister a compliment. Samantha did not pat me on the head even though I was younger than them; I look far more white than Asian. Even now, I'm not sure what I would have done if I could go back in time to that moment. I hope that Samantha met other non-white people and learned. I hope that it is never too late to learn new lessons.

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