Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Throwing the Lifeline

I am at an impasse.  Whenever I find myself in this position, I turn inward and try to resolve my end of the conflict.  When that doesn't work, I turn to others.

This is where you come in.

I need help, friends.  I'm angry, disappointed and frustrated.  I can't see the appropriate reaction any longer. In short order I fear I will find myself irrational, which nobody wants to see.

I consider myself free.  Free from judgement.  Free from prejudice.  Yes, I have my opinions (as all of us do).  Yes, I have my own preconceived notions that I have learned to dispel while educating myself. 

It hasn't been easy.

I was raised in a prejudiced family.  I often heard words that now I find absolutely appalling... and not just from my grandparents.  From my parents, too.  It was hard to understand.  As I was trying to learn more about people that were different from me those not so kind words were flying around my young girl head.

My first introduction to a person of a different color was thankfully provided by NBC and one fantastic show I watched faithfully... Different Strokes.  I was fascinated to try to identify with teens that were different than me.  I grew up in a community with one Native American family of which I befriended them as if they were my own (and practically lived in their house!)  I went through primary and secondary schools with extremely limited exposure to people different than me.

But I thought about it often.  I vowed to raise my children in a home that would be NOT see or feel difference.  I was convinced if I raised my boys the right way it would never, ever be of concern to them.

Sure we had the "why does Frankie have chocolate skin, momma?" conversations.  But both of my boys I am proud to say have NEVER heard the words that easily fell from my momma's lips.  

Until now.

My little guy is caught smack dab in the middle of what I say is none other than discrimination.  He and his friends are being called a "white boy" or "white bread".  Well - we are, is what I tell him.

But that's far from the worst.

He is hearing that dreaded word - the one I swore and vowed would NEVER enter my home.  And I'm fairly certain you may be surprised to hear by whom.

A boy moved into our 'hood last year with a fairly identifiable track record of causing a bit of chaos.  I don't blame him... as I rarely do.  It typically falls squarely upon the shoulders of the parents in my eyes.

I'm sure in an attempt to find his own group of friends he has befriended mostly boys at our school that look just like him.  I see no issue with that - that is probably would my little guy would do truth be told if thrown into a new environment.

The new group of boys are not behaving kindly.  They follow others around school calling them names.  They tease them at recess for being different.

And the worst.... they use that word.  THE N WORD.  I refuse to even type it, it generates absolute disgust down in the pit of my stomach.

And for some reason, when they call my son and his friends that word, it's okay.  

IT'S NOT OKAY.  Not with me.  It's never okay.

I can't for the life of me understand the context.  I can't understand why it's okay.  I can't understand how it could be cool to use a word that for generations was used in slang to be hurtful, to be disrespectful.  

I'm devastated, quite frankly.  The very word I have never let into my home has pranced across my door.  My son and his friends are asking some of us what it means, why they are being called this (verbally and in social media such as Instagram).  They are asking what the word "racist" means as they are being told that they are.  Boys that they have been friends with since first grade are no longer talking to them because they are a different color.

I'm at a complete standstill.  I have no idea what to do.  I have no idea how to respond.  I fear I don't have enough reassurance to prove to my son that he is not nor has he ever been a racist.  I fear the very opposite of all of the work I have done as a parent to teach equality has just flown out the window.  The actions of these boys may very well teach my son to not want to befriend a person of color.

Hubs encouraged me last night that this will not happen.  Our son is smart, he is inherently good and he will see that just as there are bad white people that sometimes there are bad people in all walks of life.  

I pray he is right.  I pray this experience will not change my son and who he really is.  And I pray I gain the strength to find the appropriate way to support him.

Comments on my blog are always welcomed.  If you have advice, please leave it for me.  Sometimes a girl just has to throw a lifeline to others for help.

Now is one of those times.


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