My daughter has said a couple of things lately that have unnerved me. The first time I asked her “who taught you that”. She said “so & so did”. I asked my husband to talk to so & so and get this straightened out.
Well so & so works a lot and my husband works a lot and the connection wasn’t made in a timely manner. We figured our daughter had forgotten all about it and instead of making an issue out of something that may have disappeared we decided to ignore the elephant in the room.
Brianna is four. She has never been exposed to prejudism at home. We don’t describe people by the color of their skin. This is a very sensitive issue especially considering we live in such a diverse environment. People of color reside all over Florida. We don’t call African Americans black, Latin Americans brown, or caucasians white. We are careful to describe someone without considering appearance unless it’s necessary and then we start with identifying clothing or hair/eye color/style. Not skin color. Ever.
Brianna told me “that black boy” who lives down the street. What? That who? Who taught you to call someone black? “So & so did”. Unbelievable. “Brianna, we do not describe people by the color of their skin. The fact that his skin is darker than yours makes no difference. Do not let me hear you say that ever again.” That was a couple of weeks ago.
Saturday night she said “I like that black teacher in my class at church”. There is that word again. This time Rich heard her say it too. We both started the lecture. She got really upset and I figured out why through a series of questions. She really likes this student teacher a lot and she was upset that we thought she had said something mean about him. We had to explain gently that we know she meant no harm in what she said, but that we do not describe people by the color of their skin. Ever. Does this boy have a name? “Yes, it’s so & so”. From now on you call him by his name we tell her. Ok she agrees.
Today I was trying to sneak out the door to get the mail without the ankle biters following me. There were two adorable kids walking down the street — brother and sister — coming home from school. My kids came running out the front door (guess I’m not as good at sneaking as I used to be) and they said “who are they Mom?”. I said “they’re our neighbors”. I told them to say hello and we all said our hellos. The boy said “we aren’t your neighbors because we live way down that street”. He was a cutie-pie and I played along. No sense in arguing with him. He may have been a whole 7 years old. Cute.
I got the mail and started to herd the children up the driveway into the house. Just as I got halfway up the driveway and the two school kids got to the corner by the stop sign (which I can see out of my front window as I type this to you) Brianna says in a loud and not-so-joyful tone of voice “but they’re BLACK Mom”. I quickly glanced their direction to see if there would be a reaction because I was so sure they heard her and then I snapped “so the heck what Brianna — what does that have to do with anything? — get in that house NOW girlie — we need to have another talk I see”. I was livid and very, very embarrassed. I wanted to run over to those kids and explain that she doesn’t understand what she’s saying and that so & so said “black” once to her and she just doesn’t mean anything hurtful by it. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m (gulp) so very sorry please don’t tell your mom about this.
I keep looking out my window expecting an adult to pull up in my driveway any minute with two crying kids in tow to ask me to my face to explain why her kids are crying. I have quite an imagination.
What do we do? Obviously so & so really does need to be made aware of what has transpired in the careless statement that was made in the presence of our daughter. The elephant can no longer be ignored. But then what do we do with Brianna?
Help!! Seriously. HELP!!!!