Hey Kid, Don’t Be A Racist

I knew the moment this white girl married an Asian man and we decided to procreate that at some point some ignoramus would break both my heart and my child’s.  I just didn’t know it would happen this early in his life or how totally furious and protective I would feel.  Nor did I think Mother’s Day would be the day it would happen.

For Mother’s Day Big took me to one of our favorite Chinese restaurants.  While waiting for a table Big and Shorty were checking out the fish tank.  There was a little boy about six or seven sitting on the bench also looking at the fish.  Shorty was talking to the fish when out of nowhere this other child looks at Shorty with contempt and says, “Hey kid, I’m not Chinese,” then he scooched farther away from my little boy.

I was stunned to say the least.  Moments later his father came out of the dining area to check on him.  I could have slapped the kid and his father.  Shorty is two so he really had no idea what the heck was going on.  He just wanted to look at the fish.  But me, my heart was ready to burst out of my chest.  How dare someone insinuate that my child is somehow inferior or odd because he is half Asian.  And where exactly did this other child learn such things?

Big hasn’t been as affected by this little incident as I have.  In his eyes it was ridiculously minor compared to some of the crap he’s endured.  I, however, am a white woman who has experienced very little prejudice in my life.  Probably if someone reacted to me like that I could handle it, but this is my beautiful child we’re talking about.  No one, and I mean NO ONE, had better mess with him.

I’m now really dreading the day when some other person does something or says something to Shorty that will hurt his feelings.  There will come a day when I won’t be able to be with him every second.  I won’t be able to protect him from the ignorance and hate that some people will inflict upon him.  There will come a day when he will be old enough to understand when someone is being hurtful.  I’m not sure I’m ready for that day.  I’m not sure how I can make Shorty be ready for that day.

 Rejection because you’re not wearing the latest designer brand or because your mom packs your lunch when all the other kids buy theirs is one thing.  Being made fun of or being rejected happens to us all at some point.  But how do you prepare for the day when rejection comes simply because you look different than someone else?  What scars will it leave on me and Shorty when he comes home crying because someone doesn’t like him or made fun of him simply because of who he is?

I don’t have the luxury of seeing the world through the rose colored glasses of a white person anymore.  I can’t.  The moment I gave birth to my son I began my education in what it feels like for other races.  I’m hear to tell you it isn’t a pretty place to be.  There are landmines when you least expect them and the enemy lurks in every corner … even in the disguise of a seven year old boy on what was supposed to be an innocent night out.

This entry was posted in Children, Family, Learning, Love, Mommy Worry, Motherhood, Multiculturalism, Parenting, Prejudice, Race, Shorty and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Hey Kid, Don’t Be A Racist

  1. Evenshine says:

    I hate to say it, but it’s going to happen. Maybe it’s better that it starts now while he’s young enough to learn how to respond. I have to say that I don’t see what’s wrong with what the kid said- maybe it was his own discomfort at seeing that he wasn’t like Shorty. Maybe he had been having a bad day. I think we have to try (as hard as it may be) to not react with the instinctive slap-him-in-the-face thought. A calm response can do wonders. And if Shorty didn’t even notice it, then that bodes well for his emotional well-being.

    • incognitomom says:

      Evenshine – I agree that the words themselves really weren’t bad. Young children often make remarks like that as more of an observation kind of comment than as a hateful comment. I think what bothered me was the tone of his voice and the look on his face.

      I didn’t say anything to the boy or his father because I really didn’t want to make an issue of it. I figure worse things will happen when Shorty gets older that will require some kind of response or explanation on mine or Big’s part. I’m not usually the confrontational type anyway so the chances of me going off on someone are slim unless the situation is so bad that there is no other way. I’d rather Shorty learn better methods of dealing with these things than to “slap someone in the face”, but at the time I was so shocked by this unexpected comment and it really did cause a knee jerk reaction to want to grab someone and shake them. (obviously I didn’t or I would be blogging about my arrest for bodily harm to another individual).

      This is my first experience with someone having a seemingly negative reaction to my son’s ethnicity. I really was not prepared for something like this so early in his life. And I’m kinda glad Shorty is too young to really know what happened. I’d like to keep him innocent for a bit longer.

  2. I, too, have had the privilege of growing up in a world where there is very little prejudice. I am amazed and saddened by the experiences of some of my Korean friends. I’m so sorry your son was the brunt of this. 😦

  3. Grace says:

    I am so glad that Mama Bear is rising up in you. I am glad your heart breaks for Shorty. You will be a good, thoughtful mom to him.

    There are many Asian children, often adopted, who are poo-pood by their Caucasian parents for being over sensitive or over imaginative and say things like “It’s their loss honey, don’t worry about it.” If your parents don’t stand by you, who will??

    There may come a time when Shorty experiences the less overt, hard-to-put-your-finger on it kind of racism, like when store clerks ignore him or serve the white person first, or the teacher that always calls on the white kids. Or punishes him while letting the other kid go.

    GOD BLESS you all. I lived it/ live it every day.

    • incognitomom says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you. I needed to know that it’s okay for me to feel that Mama Bear instinct I felt over this incident.

      My biggest fear is that as a white person I won’t fully be able to understand what he’s going to experience and that I will somehow inadvertently cause him more hurt. This is all a learning process for me.

      Since marrying my husband I have become so much more aware of those subtle forms of racism that you mentioned. It’s been a real eye opener for me.

      I love your blog and wanted to tell you that I loved your “Why It Matters” series. It does matter and I hope more people truly understand that.

  4. faemom says:

    That just stinks. I’m sure you will raise a boy that will have the armor to protect himself. I hope that boy learns better manners.

  5. lora says:

    I wish I had something to say that would make it all better. It’s terrible how children pick up on something and think that it is okay to call out people by their ethnicity, their race, their gender, or their sexuality. Unfortunately the parents probably do it everyday in their houses. I hate it. I’m sorry this happened to you.

  6. Wow. Great post. Love this part: I don’t have the luxury of seeing the world through the rose colored glasses of a white person anymore. I can’t. The moment I gave birth to my son I began my education in what it feels like for other races. I’m hear to tell you it isn’t a pretty place to be.

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