Tag Archives: prejudice

Now Showing In A Neighborhood Near You – The Wrap Party

FADE IN. Comfy living room open to kitchen area. A mouth-watering buffet is set. Beverages of all kinds, including YOUR favorite libation. All of Plain Jane’s blogging buddies are chatting and relaxing, laughing and sharing….

Thank  you, all, for your supportive comments yesterday. That post was a nice burden to unload. (And a fun way to unload it!) But it still frustrates me that I stood there like an idiot. I feel like I let my son down.

A few of you asked about my friend’s suggested retort. I’m probably mis-remembering (so correct me if I’m way off, K!) but it went along the lines of this: “Oh! That’s why we chose Even Better Montessori for our boys. We WANT diversity. We want our Asian son to feel confident and secure and accepted in his school environment. We want to teach our children that what matters is on the inside, not the color of your skin.”

Great response but as Annah pointed out, a garden party may not have been the time to educate.

And staying away from these women? Pretty much impossible. And quite honestly, the comment wasn’t said in a mean-spirited tone. The Pollyanna in me would like to think that what they were getting at was that the school population of Perfect Grades Elementary was made up of “like-minded” individuals. And we all want that, really.

The school my children attend is a beautiful mix of skin colors. There are many reasons we chose that school but the blended skin tones was a plus. And the parents are willing to shell out tuition to ensure a strong education for their child. There are mandatory volunteer hours for each family. The campus is set on many acres with walking trails, sheep, goats and chickens, raised earth gardens and compost bins. It’s a beautiful environment that we chose to reflect our values.

At least, I’m hoping that’s what those women were getting at about their school. Hopefully, they just have a misguided view that homogeneous means shared values.

I need to stop beating myself up about this.

But I still wish I had been woMAN enough to have said something. Anything to let them know how offensive their comments were.

Instead of just standing there.

It’s done. I can’t transport myself back to that moment in time. I can only move forward and give my children an extra hug. And try to be prepared if it ever happens again.

Ok.

That’s a wrap!

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Filed under Be-Causes, Lessons Learned

Now Showing In A Neighborhood Near You!

FADE-IN. Beautiful garden pool party. The sun is setting and children are playing in the pool. The beautiful people mingle and talk, carrying drinks in their hands save one plain Jane, trying to fit in. Soft conversations and the laughter of children can be heard in the background. Four women are talking together in a group.

WOMAN #1

Oh, we just LOVE Perfect Grades Elementary! Absolutely LOVE it!

WOMAN #2

We had Mrs. Spectacular this year. For kindergarten. She is a gem!

PLAIN JANE

Oh, is it a K-5 school?

WOMAN #2

Yes, it is. And they’re making it a Charter School next year. They’ll be offering karate, piano, Chinese, expanded art classes. I can’t wait.

WOMAN #3

I know. I hate it that my little Allie is graduating. We’re going to miss it!

PLAIN JANE

What are the class sizes like?

WOMAN #2

Oh, the average size. But every class has an aid and the kids are so well-behaved. They WANT to be there.

WOMAN #3

And, most of the kids are (her words are barely audible, muddled by the shouts of the children playing in the pool)

Thinking she misheard, Jane leans in closer.

PLAIN JANE

Pardon me?

WOMAN #1 and WOMAN #3

(leaning in together and whispering)

White

Plain Jane is speechless and unable to overcome her shock. She glances over at her Asian son playing with the other white children. The chatter among the women continues as Jane fades into the background.

This scene actually happened to me this past weekend. A gorgeous garden party in our subdivision. The perfect evening. And when those women repeated the word “white” I stood there, unable to utter a sound. I thought, in that moment, that this is going to be one of those times when I’ll think of the perfect thing to say as soon as we get into the car to go home.

But I didn’t. And days later, it is still bothering me.

I shared this scene with a dear friend and neighbor of mine. She had to miss the party. I was relaying the scene and before I could finish she said, “Oh, I know EXACTLY what I would have said. I would have said….” And then she rattled off the perfect retort. (Just one of the reasons I love her so!)

But what would YOU say? How would you finish the scene?

 

 

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Filed under Observations

A World Where Skin Color Is Of No Consequence

Just a few months after my daughter arrived we were pushing her in a carriage around campus. We lived in faculty housing and happened to run into one of the other instructors at the school. He was an elderly gentleman. Professor of History. He oooed and ahhhed appropriately over our new baby. And then he asked in hushed tones, “Are you going to tell her she’s adopted?”

I had to fight back a smile. My husband stood there looking stunned. The professor waited patiently for an answer.

“I think she’s going to figure that one out,” my husband said.

Our daughter is Asian. We are Caucasian. Yes, it will be obvious to her soon enough.

Privately, my husband commented on what a silly question that was. But I didn’t think so. I think it was a beautiful question. An amazingly beautiful, wonderful question. It meant that he didn’t see color of skin. He saw a precious baby girl. And from his generation, a generation that often didn’t discuss adoption, he wondered if we would. Her skin color was of no consequence. It wasn’t even apparent to him.

THAT’s the kind of world I want to live in. Where skin color is of no consequence. Where we don’t distinguish between brown, black, pink, olive, or white. OR where skin color is mentioned simply as another physical identifier, like eye color or hair color. When my boys were about 3 and 4 years old they would comment, “The boy with the brown skin” or “My skin is lighter than Mommy’s skin.” At first I bristled. How do I tell my boys it’s impolite to point out someone’s skin color? But then I thought, if they said “The girl with the red hair” do I tell them that it’s impolite to notice hair color? So, I let it go. And it became a non-issue.

But what about when we are forced to label ourselves? On a form for college, I was asked to check a box that described my race. The choices were: Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, African-American, other. I choose ‘other.’ It asked me to explain. I wrote: Irish-Scottish-German-French-American but I prefer to be called ‘Euro-American.’ And never mind that there wasn’t a choice to appropriately categorize MY ethnicity – little American mutt that I am – what about the other black cultures out there? Not every black American is from Africa. What about Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, the Middle East? And as my husband pointed out, maybe we should ALL check African-American because, after all, mankind originated from a region in Africa.

How about when we celebrate our skin color publically? African-American Bloggers Conference, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, The Billboard Latin Music Awards, Ku Klux Klan Parade. Oops. That was a bit politically incorrect. Yes, I know the KKK is a hate group. But they are celebrating their skin color. And think about it. If a group of white people get together, excluding all other skin colors – it’s racist. If another skin color group gets together – it’s a celebration. How is that promoting acceptance? It’s exclusionary. It’s preferential. It’s cliquish. It’s wrong.

I’m not perfect. I’ve made judgements based on skin color. I try very hard not to. I fight stereotypes and try to block the thoughts as soon as I notice them. But then there are times when I just don’t like the person. A professor friend of my husband’s once said, “Racism denies me my God-given right to detest the individual.” Sometimes it’s simply the inside of a person we don’t like.

If we are going to preach that ‘what is important is on the inside’ than we have got to stop noticing the outside. Appearances must be a non-issue. And you can’t exclude yourself to celebrate the color of your skin and then come back to the real world and expect to be noticed and valued for your abilities and character only. If you join groups that focus on skin color then expect to be defined by your skin color.  

I want to live in a colorblind world. I want to be valued for my insides. I want my children to simply be noticed as brother and sister, not adopted one and biological one. A world where skin color is just another physical characteristic like short or tall. Racism will simply be an archaic term to describe an unhappier time. No labels. No celebrations based on looks. Please tell me we’re not that far off.

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Filed under Be-Causes