June 25, 2015

In black and white

Before work and camp yesterday, C-man and I were reading the newspaper. He came across an article about the Confederate Flag and the controversy surrounding it, and started to ask questions - What was really happening, who wanted it, why would they want it. It occurred to me a few minutes into answering the 'why' questions, specifically, that he has no frame of reference for any of this to make any sort of sense. He's learned of racial tensions and prejudices and the history of it all. We haven't shielded him from the stories of police brutality and Ferguson and the local Sikh temple shooting. But it makes about as much sense to him as the proverbial fish on a bicycle.

This child has no frame of reference. No experience. No understanding. No comprehension. Zero.

Now, my child is incredibly privileged. He has never known not having. Our education decisions for him are between which private top-notch education he'll experience. When he struggles at the plate, he goes to a special batting session with a semi-pro coach. And if all goes according to plan, he'll make it to his fourth continent by age 11. And I was privileged. While I didn't have the range of experiences that he has now, it never occurred to me that I would or could be poor or uneducated or discriminated against.

So I struggle with this conversation. Partly, because I know how important it is that he understands what is happening - the futility of it, the unjustness of it, the uneducated unnecessaryness of racism and mob mentality putting yourself over another. But part of me wants to shield him from it all. Because if it makes sense to him, then that means he has a frame of reference - an experience or understanding of how it is possible.

In the midst of all of this, his incomprehension gave me hope that maybe... just maybe...

1 comment:

Mary Z said...

He is such a caring child/person, as would be expected with his parents. But, as the song says, he must be "carefully taught". And you will teach him the proper things. All too soon, even in his privileged situation, he'll come up against this ugly stuff and will need the tools to deal with it.

I live in the south and grew up in the south, so I've known it all my life. I consider myself fortunate to have had the parents I did. They were southern-born, too, but were as unprejudiced as they could be for their time and place. And we've tried to do the same with our kids.

Give him the facts and your views. He needs to see this, because unfortunately, it's part of the world out there. And we can only change it when we know what it is.