This morning my five year old helped me take out the trash. She was dancing around in the drive as I cleaned out evidence of my many fast food lunches crushed into the corner of the passenger seat of my car. I’m a Realtor so I eat a lot of lunches in my car.
We started making our way to place trash bin at the curb when she noticed about thirty birds eating birdseed that our neighbors had tossed in their driveway.
She looks at me and tells me that it looks like a birdie restaurant. That it did with thirty doves quickly picking up seed and eating as fast as they could, much they way I must have looked creating my pile of fast food bags.
“Look daddy there is a one black bird, he must be the waiter.”
The waiter, the waiter! Why would she think the black one is the waiter? Does she think that since he’s black he must be the servant? We haven’t broached the topic of slavery from a historical perspective. We’ve taught that all men are equal and all birds too. Where is she getting this from? Why would she think this? We probably go out of our way to treat other races better than we treat ourselves. Does that make me a racists against my race and hers? Heck she’s bi-racial so by offending ourselves I’m offending two races.
For a girl who has only known an African American President and knows that daddy’s favorite golfer among all the white guys is an African American, how the heck is she seeing racial bias.
All of these questions flooded my mind in a split second like a MSNBC reporter at a Trump rally. I pictured myself running for city council in a few years having to answer questions about how my little girl obtained racial bias and not having any answer other than “I don’t freaking know!!!!”
So I asked, “sweetie, why is the black bird the waiter.” She looked at me with innocent eyes and said “Because he’s wearing a black uniform like waiters do.”
Phew! She’s not racist just observant (not that we eat at many restaurants with waiters in tuxes, Chili’s waiters have been known to wear black).
I know that racial bias will creep its ugly head into my child’s world through TV, the internet, music, class mates and yes through her parents. It’s nearly impossible to avoid. The problem as I look at it is not that its there but how we handle it. I honestly believe we have become conditioned to see differences over the last many years in a way that I didn’t feel growing up. I’m thirty-seven and think about race more now than at any point of my life. I had African American, Hispanic, Anglo and Asian American friends growing up. To me they were just friends and race was just a thing. Sure I’ve felt odd being the only Hispanic at times when I’m certain places but when I stopped thinking about it all was good. I have always just considered myself an American who’s family came from Spain and Mexico a long time ago. My race is just part of my history. I’m not disowning it, I just don’t let if define me. I like the cultural elements of my heritage, especially the food. I just believe my character is what should define me. That’s my choice and others have the right to think different.
We are all different and that’s a beautiful thing, yet we are all humans and love flows from and to us the same. Cultural differences make the world an amazingly awesome place. It would be boring if we all act the same way. If the whole world was like Texas it would be boring, well run but boring. We need Californian’s, New Yorkers, Europeans and everyone else.
The difference we as parents can have is to make sure our children understand that we are all the same in that we are all unique and we all need love. We need to discuss these issues with our kids because if they don’t learn from us they will from someone else. First to discuss the world from this standpoint we must really take a look at how we see others and the world. Our beliefs pass on to them. Both hatred and love are taught. We can change the entire world in one generation if we all just really grow up and think like an innocent five year old who just observes the word through fun eyes.