“ Hey n****r ”
“ She looks like poop.”
“ She is so ugly”
“ Brown skin is ugly”
“ Your hair is so weird!”
Believe it or not, all that and more is what I have heard children in Canada call me in the past 5 years. Just last week I had an interesting conversation with a 7 year old, she could not believe Joel chose to marry me. From what we had been talking about earlier I knew it was because I was black. Talking about race is very important in my relationship with Joel. It is a thorny subject that we cannot afford to ignore not just for the sake of our marriage but because of where we live and the people we connect with. The North End is a culturally and racially diverse community. Even though it tends to have a bad rap in Winnipeg, I love it for its diversity and learning how to navigate race issues in this community makes us better friends and neighbours.
A blog post cannot fix the problems I have encountered and will continue to encounter. I firmly believe what I hear children say is because of what they are hearing or not hearing at home. I chose to write briefly about this issue in hope I can be of help to a random parent who needs to read this today and engage more in teaching their child or children to respect all peoples not just with words but from the heart.
So here are some suggestions:
- If you have never reflected on what you think about race, take some time to think about it and be brutally honest with yourself. You can’t teach something when you don’t even know where you stand on the issue.
- If you have a phone that connects to the internet, do some online research on good resources, like short videos or books on race. If you have a local library go see what they have to offer. Joel and I enjoy Eric Masons teachings on race. If you like to read, his book: Woke Church is available on amazon otherwise you can find some of his stuff on Youtube.
- I would not encourage talking about tough race issues with someone you don’t have a solid friendship with. Chances are you will end up bringing up even more offences.
- Please don’t wait till your child meets someone of another race to tackle this issue.
- And please, please don’t teach them to say, “ I don’t see colour.”
To be very clear, I am no expert on teaching children let alone adults on racism or reconciliation. When a child calls me something derogative, I pray for grace and wisdom, I beg God to keep my hurt feelings at bay and then I speak gently to the child. These are some of the hardest conversations I have ever had and I know I will continue to have. Better to be the one that plants seeds of racial unity than division.
Disclaimer: Please don’t read this post as a cry for help, I promise you I am fine. Neither am I fishing for sympathy. I wont respond to any comments that come across that way. I REALLY don’t want a social media war on words over what I have posted. This is me sharing a little advise for someone who may need it. If you don’t need it then good for you 🙂