Recently I was perusing a baby-related message board (I know, I know) and I came across a posting by a woman sharing the story of her seven year old son’s experience being picked on by another kid because his skin is dark. The typical, “Oh this is horrible” or “they’re kids they don’t know that they’re saying at that age. Just ignore it” responses followed. Yes, it is horrible but I suspect the kid knew exactly what he was saying, he was raised that way.
I can hear my seven readers now, “he’s just a kid, he doesn’t know!” A few years ago I would have thought that too. A story in an issue of Newsweek opened my eyes to an idea that had been floating in the back of mind for years. Little kids are racist and it’s our fault.
That episode of Seinfeld were Elaine is dating a guy who she believes may be black but she doesn’t want to ask because “We’re not supposed to talk about that” is so accurate. Funny stuff and that’s who we are; a country afraid to deal with the racial elephant in the middle of room.
Remember when Attorney General Eric Holder called the nation a country of cowards on race and he was immediately shouted pilloried? Do you remember any great conversations about race? Unless you want to count Barack Obama’s beer summit, I don’t remember any national conversations about race either. Instead for Black History Month we get black people in commercials happily rapping about food that might be bad for you.
I don’t know what it’ll take to get people to engage in the much needed conversation about race. I promise my daughters aren’t going to be cowards when it comes to this topic though.