Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"That's Okay, They're Family"......


When it comes to race issues in America we are not surprised when the older generation still has problems regarding interracial dating and marriage.  Sometimes it's hard to let go of old school ways when that's how someone was raised.  However, the younger generation is supposed to give us hope that race will just be a fact and not an issue.  Now the "pee wee generation"....I'm talking about our itty bitties....kinder, first graders and so on......those little kiddos should have ZERO issues when it comes to race, right? Why would a first or second grader care, or even know, to have a problem with interracial dating or marriage?  The one and only reason a little one would care, or rather know to care, is because they are being taught to care.   I wrote about this last year at "Nobody is Born a Bigot" but this year it hit even closer to home. 

Recently, we were out with relatives from Jamie's side of the family and one of them told us a story that was very concerning to me.  Her little daughter was watching a wedding show with her and the couple that was getting married happened to be a black woman and an Asian man.  Our little relative said to her Mama, "How can they be getting married? They don't belong together."  Mama said, "What? They're getting married because they love each other."  Little relative said, "They can't get married, they should be the same."  Is your mouth dropping yet?  At this point mine did!  Mama then said, "It doesn't matter what skin color someone is as long as the man treats the woman like a princess, they make each other happy, and they love each other."  Little relative wasn't going for it.  She said, "No, it's not okay, they need to be the same."  Mama then said,  "Well what about Uncle Jamie and Aunt Amy?"  Little relative said, "That's okay, they're family."  Isn't it fascinating that because we are family, and she loves us to pieces, she feels that our interracial marriage is okay?  She's just a child, so she doesn't understand that if we're okay, then all interracial marriage should be okay.  As the story goes on, I still can't believe what I'm hearing. How could our little relative feel this way? Mama continued to explain that it's all about love and happiness, and not skin color. However, with the exception of "us," little relative was not about to change her mind in regards to how she feels about interracial couples.

You might be asking, where is she learning this kind of thinking?  I asked the very same question. Clearly Mama isn't teaching racism.  Mama and Daddy are not together anymore, so is it being taught at Daddy's?  Is she learning from friends at school who learn from their Mommy's and Daddy's?  Is she learning from Grandparents?  Who knows?  It's just sad and wrong. 

Tolerance is so important and the little ones are the key.  They are like sponges, and no matter what we teach them they will soak it in.  It breaks my heart that our little relative feels this way.  I hope that all of her Mama's positive feedback and teaching will outweigh the negative that she is being exposed to elsewhere.  Hate can be taught, but love can still be learned.  This is my hope for her.

10 comments:

Madgew said...

I would hope so too, Amy. My grand kids are cute when I asked them to describe the kids in their new classrooms. They all go in degrees of brownness. Their sister is very olive so they compare everyone to her. Ryan is light,light light brown, Sammy is very white (very very fair), Jack is medium brown, Asian girls are (China Girls) no clue where they got that and Darryl my ex (African American) is dark brown. They have a lot of Iranians (Persians) in their class and they are also different shades of brown. They never mention color at all unless they are trying to tell me about someone with the same name they will say, you know the one who is darker brown or lighter brown or often color of hair or curly or straight. We all have no idea where they got it from. I tried to once say that Darryl was African American and explain and that he was considered black and all of them said no grammie he is just dark brown. I think because they have known my friends since birth they think anyone can be with anyone. I find myself sometimes differentiated by color if I am trying to point out someone I have exhausted all other factors. Often times a salesperson on the phone will ask me who I talked to when I was in the store and they will ask me if they were hispanic or black and I have no clue. Also, been asked that on the phone about who I talked to and I said how do I know unless I am clearly talking to someone from India.:) But as far as marrying someone I find it interesting because if I ever watch the shows I am seeing how the couple matches by weight (my own weirdness) and personality. I am glad "little relative" thinks you and Jamie are okay because you are family. It can be extended to gays and other stuff as well. When you know someone you are always much more comfortable with their differences. My grand kids are 6 and they think it is fine to have two Moms, two dads, or a single parent. I was more curious about who was in their classrooms as I always want them in interracial settings and hoped it wasn't all lilly white. :) Wow this got me going.

Amy said...

Madge,

Thank you for all the thoughts! I am so bummed that our little relative is being taught to think you should "stick with you own kind." Thankfully she doesn't see us that way! Hopefully between her Mama, the rest of Jamie's family and Us, we can turn that thinking around and SHE can teach the positive to whoever is teaching her the negative!

I love that your grandkids are exposed to everyone and love everyone. That's the way it should be...plain and simple!

Hugs Madge....

Amy

NAY K. said...

Good morning. Peace & Blessings. As always, I hope that this e-letter finds all of you in good health. Amy, similar to what you wrote some time ago, I too wrote a final term paper in college, which was published in the college newspaper and the title, was "Racism & Prejudice begins at home."

Not to get off the beaten path, but my youngest bro (in Colorado) and I were talking on the phone a few months ago and he was telling me how our parents and parents in general teach their little kids to lie. I told him that neither our mom nor dad ever taught that and he did not know what in the H he was talking about.

So, we got a bit upset, but he said “well Nay what about the times when a debt collector would call and one of us preteen kids would answer the phone and mom would tell us to say that mom is not home. Lie 1. What about the time, when a door to door salesman comes to the door and we’d answer it and our dad would tell us to say, no one is home right now. Lie 2.

Little kids are very honest until they are taught differently i.e. little kids will say for example, you stink or that hat is ugly. The parent of the child will grab the child and say, “Don’t say that.

In the late 80’s, a Native American Indian man who looks like a Hispanic man was telling me how he was working in a hardware store and an older White woman came in with her little grandchild. The man helped the lady, but while waiting to pay, the kid perhaps between the age of (5-7) ask the lady, (been so long, so I am paraphrasing) [note: I will NOT finish out the whole racist words] but the child said something like “is that a Wet----.”

The man held his dignity and just ignored and pretended not to hear. The woman apologized for her grandchild, but the man said to the lady, “well kids only speak what they learn”.

I also like Madge W nice long response here.

In closing, all of us should remember the words of deceased world famous Latin superstar, Celia Cruz. “El alma, no ha color”.
Amy, I just want to say how much I truly enjoyed reading {Minds truly can be changed} and I admire your patience and display of love that you showed and took time (without anger) to teach the racist woman in your office that all Blacks are not in jail, nor on welfare, nor in gangs, wife beaters or rapist. Amy, you remind me a lot of Susanne (my oldest son’s mom).With Jaime’s permission; I just want to give you a big internet hug.

Amy said...

Nay K.

Thank you for your comment! It is just amazing to me that parents continue to teach hate to their children. It is beyond my imagination why this continues to occur in 2010.

In regards to the racist client...thank you for the kind words. It has been quite the turn around and I now talk to her quite frequently. It's almost mind boggling. It shows that love, understanding and patience CAN win out over hate and racism. It's not easy but it can happen.

Thank you for the "internet" hug! Right back at ya!

A.

Ann said...

Hey, Amy,
I don't know that it's a given that they are being taught. Brian told me about some recent study he heard about, where they put babies (crawlers, I think) in a room together and watched them interact. They gravitated toward those with similar skin color.

Maybe children do distinguish by appearance before they have cognition. If that's true, then what they are taught after that is even more critical.

Considering what your little relative heard in response to her hypothesis, I think she'll probably be fine! :)

Amy said...

Ann,

Very interesting! I have to say though, regardless it's still taught and reinforced by outside influences. In regards to our little relative this one's a toughy because she is like a ping pong ball with what she is being taught. Mom teaches the good and then there is the bad coming from the other direction. We all just have to keep showing her that none of it matters except for love. Thanks for reading! Hugs...A.

jessica said...

I know I'm a little late with this but I've thought about this topic a lot actually.
As an interracial person in an interracial marriage with interracial children.....
I think part of it is taught, somehow, and I think part of it is in your blood...in your genes.
My example: Filipino's tend to eat rice with their hands. There is a technique with their fingers that scoops the perfect mouthful. Now I NEVER taught my children to do this. Neither did my Filipino husband. I always gave them a spoon or a fork. Even when they were toddlers and just developing their motor skills...the only time they ate with their hands was for cookies or crackers.
Yet somehow my kids eat rice with their hands. Even though I always give them their dinner plates w/ a spoon.
It must be inside them already. Some part of it has to be in their blood...personally I think my kids have a Filipino bone inside their Filipino-Chamorro-Swedish bodies...a bone that causes them to eat rice with their hands, 'squat', and point with their lips. All things that I vowed NEVER to TEACH my children.

Amy said...

Jess,

Now that is VERY interesting! Did they pick that up at relatives houses maybe? If not, it's fascinating that they just "do" that! Hmmmm. In regards to feeling hatred towards a race though that HAS to be taught. Kids can naturally gravitate towards those that "look" like them but unless it's taught to not like them that would not be inherent. It makes me sad to see the little ones exposed to racism. It has to end with the new generations. It just has to.

Hugs to your melting pot fam!!

Amy

Anonymous said...

Amy,

First of all, let me say that the photo with this post is a great one. Tatiana always looks great in the photos, but this one I feel is absolutely stunning of her!

In regard to children, I have a rather interesting and discouraging story of my own. My nephews,who are only a few years younger than me, live in a small Southern Illinois town. My nephew Ben, has two daughters, ages 5 and 6. I think the oldest one was 5 at the time, because this was last Christmas when I sent out Christmas cards with Ray and I's photo on them. We have never been to Illinois together, and Ray has never met my nephews or their families. This great niece of mine, upon seeing the photo of us together, said, "They can't be together... He's brown." Isn't that interesting, but discouraging at the same time? I don't know how they come up with this stuff at such a young age. I know there are not a lot of minorities in their town. I often wonder how much crap children soak up from crap TV (just one reason I don't watch TV much - there isn't much quality programming). It is so sad that children think this way, no matter what the reason.

I've missed reading your blog. Glad I had an evening to catch up with you.

Heather

Amy said...

Heather,

Thank you for the lovely compliment about Tat. That was her homecoming night last month. It kind of freaked me out how grown she looked. Beautiful but grown! =)

How BIZARRE that both of our little relatives had the same comment come out of their mouths. Hmmmm....? I just wonder where these lessons are being learned. I wrote a post last year about how one of the kids at Tat's daycare back in the day asked why Tatiana's Mommy and Daddy were different colors then her. It was just an innocent question. I told him because that is how God made us. That was good enough for him and off he went to play. It wasn't a comment of, they can't be together, rather, why are they different colors. Once his question was answered then it was just fine. =) It's all a matter of making it no big deal and teaching kids that people are people and love is love. Hopefully you can do that with your little relative.

Hugs...Amy