When Liam was in kindergarten, they gave the class a lesson on Black History Month and racism. They probably thought it was very appropriate because President Obama had just been elected, for the first time, that November. I was shocked by some of the detail they went into. Here is what Liam retained from his lesson;
“Mom, did you know white people and black people didn’t always get along? They couldn’t go to the same school as us. That is sooooooo mean. I like Barack Obama, I would vote for him, did you vote for him? AND….. you know what??!! His mother sat in the wrong section on the bus and they arrested her and put her in jail! Can they do that to the President’s mom?
Well, aside from the obvious reason that I wasn’t happy with this lesson, I wasn’t ready to point out race differences to my five year old son. Like most kids, he never noticed that anyone was a different color. Kids were just kids, just as they should be at his age. I would let him have his own experiences with all types of people and let him figure it out. I would be on hand to answer questions, if he had them. Well, due to the lesson, he had a ton of them.
“Mom, why are you black and I am white. Actually you are brown and I am pink”
I am tan, you are pale. We are both of Caucasian decent, however you got the lion-share of Dad’s Irish gene’s and you are the color of paste. You could get a moon burn. I am Italian and therefore I tan to a lovely caramel color.
“My friend Lucas is brown”
Nope, Lucas is also Italian and gets very tan.
“Did anyone in your family own slaves in the South”
Nope, they all lived in Europe until the late 1920s or early 1930s and then they all lived here in the North.
“Why are they called black people? They aren’t black. Why didn’t people like them? Are they mad? Do they not like us? Those brown skins over there are looking at me. Are they looking at me because they are mad because I am white and they might have been slaves?”
They were not ever slaves and they are looking at you because you are pointing and calling them brown skins and slaves and now they are looking at me.
So many questions! I want to answer them correctly, but I can’t take the pressure. What ever I tell him on some level is going to be wrong because he listens with half an ear and distorts all the information . So I just tell him that people are people. No matter what they look like on the outside it is what is on the inside that counts. Only judge a person by their character. Stay away from mean people. Be kind to others and only spend time with people who are kind to you. If there is a kid in school who is a jerk, you aren’t going to change him. When he grows up, he will probably be a big jerk, so don’t waste your time. Mommy is not prejudice, I don’t like most people. I prefer animals. Your Dad has wonderful character, you should look to hang out with people like him, but don’t be as naive as your father. He automatically assumes that because he always does the right thing, everyone else will too. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually the case.
Liam has done really well with this information. Even now, he seems blissfully unaware in the physical differences of his friends. There is this one “moron” ( his words, not mine) that irritates him daily and he has made it his job to show this boy the error of his ways and lose his moronishness. Liam isn’t going to change this kid, but hopefully, there is a lesson in there for him somewhere.
Next year, he has the Puberty Presentation. Again, I am not sure he is old enough for this information. The questions that he will have after that assembly are going to be AWFUL. I can hear him now,
” I had my Puberty Presenation today and I can’t believe you and Daddy did that three times. You guys are disgusting!”
Can’t Wait lol