Home > Parenting, Reflections > Racist intent, sweet truth

Racist intent, sweet truth

I climbed out of the car, readying to free my son from his car seat, when I overheard the folks parked next to us.

“They’re black,” one man said derisively.

Said the other with equal derision as he glanced toward my son,  “That bodes well for the future.”

After a moment’s debate, I decided not to say anything. Because, no matter how the words were spoken, their truth is undeniable: our sweet children, being raised to see beyond our superficial differences, do indeed bode well for a future more full of love.

image

The future

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Categories: Parenting, Reflections Tags: , , , ,
  1. Running from Hell with El
    December 22, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Holy crap. Are you serious? That makes me wanna hit em in the teeth Good on you for turning it around with love.

    • December 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Totally serious. Usually I only hear about it, so it was strange to actually hear it firsthand. It seemed fortuitous somehow that those should be the particular words exchanged.

    • Donnell Jeansonne
      July 14, 2013 at 9:36 am

      Ugh. I’m scared for the future because of the kind of people those kind of people will raise into adults.

  2. December 22, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I’m so sorry these idiots parked next to you. And so glad you took it in a positive light. Racism is NOT dead in this country and you unfortunately were a victim of it. Please know that those people are the minority in this country and someday, yes, SOMEDAY, they will be gone from our society. My heart goes out to you and your son. Hug and kisses.

    • December 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      When I heard those words, I couldn’t help remembering writing that I understood my son would someday experience racism. Somehow that particular experience was not as bad as I imagined. It seemed so evident at that moment that it had nothing whatsoever to do with him. I hope we will raise him to understand that, although doubtlessly the words will hurt some regardless. I am heartened by your words. Thank you. ♥

  3. December 22, 2012 at 11:39 am

    What a bunch of jerks – what’s the point of directing hateful words and thoughts toward a beautiful child? Boggles my mind.

    Your reaction was wise, and beautiful. You impress me so much, Deb. xo

    • December 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Today’s reaction was borne of not so good reactions in the past. Seeing his my negative responses inflamed situations, I opted for a different path. But I wish my words would have been pivotal (positvely) in that moment nevertheless . . .

      Much love, lady.

  4. December 22, 2012 at 11:44 am

    “THAT bodes well for the future.” …. Li’l D as I know him? …. Absolutely.

    • December 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      The fact the responder used those particular words felt so hopeful to me. I looked between him and my son and realized that the future looked very, very bright in contrast, especially thinking of Li’l D’s “say sorry” moment a few nights ago. ♥

  5. December 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Indeed, your beautiful son with his beautiful parents bode well for the future. Thankfully I wasn’t there, the current wouldn’t have ended as peacefully.

    • December 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      My first impulse was to respond with, “Excuse me?” But two particular instances from my past prompted me to take a different path.

      Once, in law school, a fellow restaurant patron called my friend a nigger. I launched myself at him with a few not so kind words; my friend physically restrained me, saying “He is not worth going to jail for.”

      Another time, a little before I moved back to L.A., my sister and brother-in-law were forced to move because of my hasty words. The neighbors, who constantly left their dog off-leash in a partially fenced area, took no fault for a bite incident. “Once those pit bulls get a taste of blood, it’s over,” she said.

      “Excuse me?” I exploded. “This had nothing to do with breed and everything to do with irresponsible dog ownership! You know how the incident could’ve been avoided? By you actually obeying leash laws, or, you know, coming outside with your dog instead of just sending her off to chase after the mailman!”

      Bad things came of that conversation. Some good ones also did, though. That was when I started learning that, when what I hoped for was change, I had to be cognizant of the best words and the best moments to try and instigate that change. In this particular moment, not knowing if I could trust myself to say anything constructive, I took heart in that the particular words used to express dismay were ones that sounded so, so very hopeful to me.

      I then frustrated Ba.D. by typing it out on my cell phone as we walked, while he was left to corral our nap-ready little one, but he was patient. “It is a good thing you’re trying to do.”

      I’m glad I did. These words of love are soothing to my heart, and further evidence that hope is not misguided.

      Love you and your passionate, compassionate heart. So much.

      • December 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm

        Which my loving friend is why it was good you were there today and not I. Normally, I would respond with restraint. Today and this past week, I don’t seem to be wrapped to tightly.

        I love you as well. For your restraint and the lessons I learn from you.

  6. December 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Like your post. You might be interested in mine on a related topic: http://wkwutk.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/what-if-your-parents-controlled-your-life/

    • December 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      “What if my parents controlled my life?” I couldn’t help but chuckle at that question, especially in light of your own words earlier in the post about what your own life would have looked like. The life that was envisioned for you is very similar to the one that was envisioned for me. I’m glad that my mom was more or less okay with that, down to a conversation we had when I told her I was leaving law school:

      Mom: I’m proud of you for trying it, honey.

      Me: You mean . . . you’re not disappointed?

      Mom: Do I sound disappointed? You went to the UCLA School of Law. My daughter went to UCLA. No, I’m not disappointed.

      Thank you for sharing this post here. I hope other folks will follow the link. One more comment before closing this one, though: I love how you conclude your post.

      And I like to think that this generational divide will shrink over time as more young people, who easily see past demographic differences, insist on creating their own stories.

      Exactly.

  7. OneHotMess
    December 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    You son is gorgeous. All people are gorgeous. However, here in Maine, when my daughter’s black friend came to visit, I was appalled by the comments that they heard. There are still people here who call black people “colored,” and they claim to know no different. I was raised in Montana a very long time ago, and we knew differently before we could talk. Much love to you! Xoxoxo

    • December 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      What was funny to me was that my mom, whose response I couldn’t anticipate, simply used the word “biracial.” Then someone I hold very dear looked at some ultrasound pictures and said, “You can tell he’s mulatto!” Although I was startled, I couldn’t help but smile to see such unexpected responses, neither of which (in that case!) was borne from anything other than love.

      It’s fascinating for me to type this all out and wonder what my son will remember 30 years from now, and what his own children (should his life take him that direction) remember when they are my age. Change is slow, but it is, and that is as heartening as your loving words.

  8. December 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    It’s sad and often staggering that people are so openly awful. I love that you let the venom roll right off your back. Reading your words here, my first reaction was to get seriously angry. Then I let your take on the situation sink in, and it calms me to see the higher road and know where it leads. Once again, you have soothed the savage beast that is me, and make me want to be a better me.

    • December 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      I was too startled to be angry at first, and then–after a brief surge of anger–so surprised to hear hope in hateful words, it felt good to let the bad part of those words roll off my back.

      Ba.D.’s guidance here was pivotal, too. I am so much more patient thanks to him, though I still have a ton of patience left to learn. I just reread his instruction from some months back and the words I wrote following that:

      Unlike first grade, the fights I face won’t be on the schoolyard. They won’t likely involve punches, kicks (groinal or otherwise) or thrown stones.

      They’ll involve words.

      If I’m able to mirror Ba.D.’s patience, those words won’t sound like fighting words. They’ll sound instead like considered assessments, and the more I practice shaping them, glimmers of hope.

      I do have hope. I have seen horrible things done by the hands of man, but I have also seen great kindnesses, even by those whom I’ve witnessed behaving monstrously.

      I’m crying as I reread those words and type these ones, both because of your comment and because I spent so long being so angry that it feels great to have walked away from a potentially explosive situation feeling not remorse but peace. And hope.

  9. Miranda Gargasz
    December 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    You know what? Where the hell is the LOVE button for a post like this, dammit!?!?! Here’s to that future, the one where our kids are better people than the rest of us. 😉

    • December 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Hear, hear! We will always have our gripes and grumbles, I suppose, but maybe someday they won’t be based (so much) on categorizing others. The thought is one for smiles. 🙂

  10. December 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I really don’t understand how racism even exists anymore. Truly, it just blows my mind. I wish more people would just focus on loving each other; treating others the way they would like themselves to be treated. This world would be so much better off. Too bad their narrow-mindedness keeps them from experiencing beautiful things this life has to hold. Like seeing how truly beautiful you and your son are.

    • December 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      What you said! That’s the thing: I felt sad for them, almost, for how much good they’re not going to see because they’re too busy looking at and for the wrong things.

      Thank you. ♥

  11. December 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    If my future is full of more people like you and Lil’ D and less of them, then indeed it does bode well! ❤

  12. December 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Better the future your son bodes, than the present that accepts such stupidity. If you ever find out where they live, let me know. I’ve got friends….. 😉

    • December 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      You ARE a friend! Thanks, as always, for not only leaving me with a chuckle, but with a sense of being protected. You’re good people, John. 😀

  13. December 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Wonder how many people said the same thing of Obama as a kid.

  14. December 22, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Hello, Deborah. I found you through the recommendation of Miss Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson. She said that you and I may have some things in common and I believe we do. I too have children that are biracial so I understand the things that you and your family go through. I think that you responded to this situation the best way you could – with complete silence, knowing that your son will prove them right. Loved it!

    x melissa little

    • December 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Hi, Melissa! I tried replying to your comment earlier, but WordPress ate it. Thank you for your encouraging words and support. I do believe there are good things yet to come from my son and his peers. I can’t wait to see them! (Or to visit your blog, assuming/hoping you have one!)

  15. December 22, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Stay on the high road. The view’s nice from there, and every once in a while you get to take the perfect shot.

  16. Trevor
    December 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Sorry to hear that those two assholes spoke out of ignorance–especially saying that about a child. And I’m glad that you were able to create a positive experience from it. People like them are increasingly be shamed for their antiquated beliefs–and I hope posts like yours continue to bring this problematic hate to light.

    • December 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      That’s the thing I wish I could’ve said to them: “Do you realize just how ignorant you sound?” But then, no, they would’ve had no framework for understanding that. So I thanked goodness that all my Li’l D saw, for now, was how close we were to Disneyland. Someday I know he’ll also see some hate, but I am also confident he will see a heck of a lot of love.

  17. December 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I am sorry you have to go through moments like that from ignorant foolish people. But I am thrilled you are able to focus on love and the future and that great little boy of yours! You are being the change you wish–we all wish–to see in this world. And we will all be helping to work toward that change, one step at a time! Thanks.

    • December 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Patti! So awesome to hear from you, all the more so with these lovely, inspiring words! ♥ I wish I could say I’d done as well with a totally unrelated encounter this afternoon, but I learned from that all the more clearly still that how I responded here is more apt not to be detrimental to long-term, positive change. Thanks, and merry Christmas!

  18. December 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Silence at times is golden and I believe your actions are a very good example for your boy.A mothers love is a beautiful thing to see and I believe that you are a wonderful testimony to that.I too have adopted and get irritated when people ask which ones are my real kids.Some people just open mouth and insert dirty foot.

    • December 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Silence really is golden sometimes! I love talking, in the right very small group of people, but I’m coming to appreciate more and more the merit in strategic silence.

      I can’t believe folks still ask others which are their “real kids.” All the kids loved and nurtured by a parent are their real parents. Period.

  19. December 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    You did the right thing. Still, I wish I’d been there…

  20. Briel79
    December 23, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Ugh, I really don’t know what is wrong with some people!

    • December 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      Briel, I was trying to sleep and contemplating that question when your message came in! I’m still not sure what would possess someone to say something hateful like that, for no benefit whatsoever . . .

      I’m glad I posted this, though. The comments have helped me be less frustrated and more hopeful.

      Love & miss you! ♥

  21. December 24, 2012 at 4:57 am

    That’s an awful thing to say and a more awful thing to hear, and I’m so sorry there’s ignorance of this magnitude in the world. If only these people knew what wonderful human beings you and Ba.D are, they’d know your children are and will be no less of a brilliant, caring, wonderful bright spot in this world.

    But you know, we know it; we the people whose lives you have touched.

    I wish nothing but love and light to those people. They need it the most.

    • December 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      The need it the most.
      I absolutely second this. As I walked away–rather, ran, for Li’l D loves running, and I must keep pace with him–I felt so sad for everything they will miss while blinded by lenses of hate. I hope their vision will become unclouded with time. I know that’s not always how these stories end, but the story of one Ku Klux Klan master who converted to Judaism is an amazing reminder of how love and patience in the face of hate can change hearts.

  22. December 24, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I’m so sorry that this happened, and I would have probably of hit them or snapped at them without thinking. Sometimes I just find it impossible to believe that we are still stuck on that, labels, ‘colors’, differences in people when all everything comes down to is that we are all human. From what I’ve read and followed in your blog your family is full of love and compassion and I feel like for some reason people see that and may want to destroy it or at least shake it up. You did the right thing but I’m so sorry you went through it though.

    • December 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      Your comment ended up in my spam filter, so I’m just reading it now although you posted it the better part of a week ago! Thank you so much for your kind, supportive words. I wonder if you’re on to something with “shake it up.” I have seen that tendency in some people–the drive to diminish others when one isn’t sure how to better oneself . . .

      In any case, I count myself blessed for the support I receive from friends offline and on. Thank you. ♥

    • December 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      I just read a blog (“Eyes of compassion“) that made me think of your words here, most especially when I read these ones:
      People don’t hurt others when they feel connected, safe, resourced, loved, regarded, and like they belong.

      I believe this. I do.

  23. December 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    I don’t remember if I did this previously or not, but I will risk repeating myself. May you have a very happy holiday, my lady. Seems we start the holiday on a sad note:
    http://windycitywonderer.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/late-breaking-news/
    A sad loss for us “of a certain age”. Thought you might want to know.
    Take care, and may you and yours have a happy! 🙂

  24. December 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Wonderful thought process, Deb. You won this round. Keep it going. It makes a difference.

    Peace and grace in the coming year.

  25. December 26, 2012 at 11:02 am

    It amazes me, truly, that people have that sort of mindset. That people EVER have this sort of mindset. I’m disgusted by it, but I love your choice to turn it around. More and more I think we have to work at doing such, as then we can live more contentedly. So sorry we didn’t get to have our “play date”, but happy to report today I am officially off the meds and hope to be returning to my normal, happy self soon! Here’s to 2013! XOXO-SWM

    • December 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      At this point, I’m still thinking of the playdate as postponed. It might be postponed for months or longer, but it will happen someday soon-ish, here or there, and I’ll keep looking forward to it in the meantime. ♥

  26. December 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Ugh. How awful. I witnessed someone being called the n-word recently. I was shocked. I think I was more upset than the person who was being called that name. She just let it slide. The whole even made me stew for a long time, so much so that I ended up writing a blog post about it. http://hollybernabe.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/lesson-on-hate-from-a-trimet-bus-driver/

    My son’s father is black. Our son hasn’t really been the butt of racist comments or negativity like that, thank goodness. He’s 19 and an adult now, trying to make his own way in life. I pray that he never has to experience racism–life is hard enough for people without piling unfounded hate on top of everything.

    Give your son a big hug for me. 🙂

  27. December 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I agree with you when you say that hope is not misguided. Bless your wise and passionate heart, and thank you for role modelling for me how to hold our tongue when the moment is not right – meaning, when we are not filled to overflowing with a power fuelled with calmness and love. I’ve noticed that as my anger rises, my Higher Power cannot be ‘heard’ and any message I could hope to convey flees. So at times like these those of us on this important path of peace calmly choose to take ‘the high road’. If I’d been there I would have wanted to hug you 😉 or of course give you a bright smile and a knowing nod. We are all in this together and I am honored to walk with you on this path.
    Love and Light, Gina

  28. July 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    It’s interesting they should mention the future, while showing themselves to be relics of the past. I wonder if they realize the future won’t be kind to people like them.

  29. July 14, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Would that we could invent something to provide a personal experience for everyone in the world so they might experience the other side of the coin. It seems only when it is personal does someone “see the light,” and sometimes not even then.

  1. December 30, 2012 at 8:40 am
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