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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Interracial Friendship and self-discovery


Image found at: http://www.valleyadvocate.com/blogs/gallery/175/colorfulchildren.jpg


My mind has been whirring as I reflect on the interracial friendship “issue” that my daughter recently encountered at a local beach. Ugh. I definitely think that I allowed my personal baggage to interfere when I responded to the little girl’s question about whether or not my daughter was black and the little girl’s comment that my daughter’s hair was very, very short. I in no way want to burden my daughter with my issues. However, I also don’t want her burdened with other folks’ issues. I truly believe that the little girl was curious and learning how to explore difference. Yet, too many times it feels that majority folks don’t train their children on the best way to go about it. They are allowed to ask, say whatever comes to their mind because “they are just children” after all. Well, some of those questions, inquiries, comments, statements, etc. can be offensive. I think it is imperative that we as parents be the vanguard to teach our children that they will encounter people who are different than they are and that the best bet is to first develop a relationship with people without bombarding them with questions. Plus, if you really have to know, ask your Momma first! Just my opinion. What do you all think?


I love the fact that the blog is opening up conversation about this topic. One of my girlfriends from New York had this to say:


“I also wanted to share something that Part 1 reminded me of. It made me wonder when I learned the social construct of calling myself "white." I was visiting my parents recently and found an old blue book from second grade (the contents of which were very amusing!) Anyway, one of my stories was a description of myself and I described myself as having peach skin. I'm sure that's because I always used the Peach Crayola to color pictures of myself. It's funny though, because it's actually a more accurate description.


Yes, we all are on a journey of self-discovery and learning about those around us. I hope that this is a safe space for you to share your honest thoughts and opinions. Please chime in! J

7 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these experiences Tina! We haven't experienced this with our own kids yet in terms of race, but I am sure it will come up at some point. Our family is interracial (my amazing sis-in-law is Korean, so the boys cousins are half Korean/half Caucasian). But any outward appearance differences haven't come up (not sure if that is their age, or just exposure to family). We do talk to the boys about how God made each and every one of us different. We talk about hair colors, eye colors, skin colors, freckles, everything and bring it back to God and how amazing He is. But I'm sure those curious questions will occur - I just hope I'm nearby like you were so as a parent, we can bring it back to how each one of us is unique and special. I love your friend's comment about peach skin1

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  2. Hi there "The Bunns". Thanks so much for your feedback. Really, it is such a blessing to hear from you! So great to hear that you're talking to the boys about differences and connecting it to God's abundant kingdom. Great, great job. If it is at all possible, please let me know when those issues do come up because they will. You know what I mean, those moments when our children say something that makes our jaws drop? I would love to hear how you handle it. Yes, my friend's comment about peach skin is great. She's a very thoughtful person! Take care! See you Sunday?

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  3. a3dfc142-8cc3-11e0-8a41-000bcdcb471eJuly 14, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    Tina that is one for the cultures again...As a white person in the early 60's I recall growing up being informed we do not talk about peoples finances and do not stare; but look a person in the eyes when you are talking to them. As for asking our Mamma we were better off seen but not heard.
    I always was frustrated as a child growing up when I encountered the comments "Who you lookin at" and "My Momma says" first of all because I never really thought I was looking at anyone in particular but the accusation usually came with other comments as a means towards picking a fight and secondly my Momma never told me anything of use about people or other cultures (nor did my father) and the end tag of "My Momma said" usually was some sort of racialy inspired comment about white folk, which I really had no knowledge of in 3rd grade. I guess I did o.k. or thought I did until I started working in the Prison system and then it started again watching my wording unless I be called a biggot or accused of racisim on my job by saying something totally inocuous (calling a friend(male black) Bro ) . I also was taken to task for being married to a Black man by some of the sisters "How could you" and "who do you think you are?" Again as I said yesterday Children are a blank page which we as parents end up writing on. The Peace and Love of Christ above all should keep us honest. Sue

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  4. Common questions and my standard responses:

    "Are you black?"
    "Yes!! Isn't that great!!!"

    "Your hair is really curly/nappy/fuzzy/short (insert adjective of choice)!"
    "I know!!! Isn't it cool!!!"

    "Your skin is really dark!"
    "I know -- isn't that great!!!"


    It makes folks think twice, and it reinforces the truth that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being black, having curly/kinky/whatever hair, having dark skin, having short hair - etc.

    Granted, I understand that explaining this to a child is somewhat of a different story - but my point is to just flip the script on the commenter

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  5. TLD, LOVE your standard responses! It is always great when we can challenge unjust social norms. I think your responses work best with adults because I don't think children understand the script and definitely might not understand when it's being flipped. What do you think? I do think that if my daughter or son comes to me upset because they have kinky hair, I will use my common response of, your hair is absolutely gorgeous. Our kinks, coils, can do a million and one styles and it's healthy and strong! I think that's along the same lines as your responses: infusing positivity into what society says is negative. Keep the comments coming. Love it!

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  6. Sue, can you explain what you mean by "that is one for the cultures"? I want to make sure I understand before I respond. Thanks again for posting your comments! ;)

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  7. a3dfc142-8cc3-11e0-8a41-000bcdcb471eJuly 16, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Just meant that culturally there are some different standards. As I stated my family had specific norms they adhered to. There are others who would suggest that my looking them in the eye while talking to them is a matter of disrespect. I have also run into individuals who feel it is OK to talk about peoples finances. As you have stated in your next post , it is a matter of explaining to our children what we believe they should understand,how they should act and how to react to things others say. We as parents of diverse backgrounds cannot always nail everything our children may run into,we should teach them a little tolerance of others ignorance.We must also teach them to use their heads when speaking out either on their own thoughts or against someones ignorance.

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