Monday, July 11, 2011

Racism Sucks

I'd like everyone to take a quick moment and  look at my daughter.

She is beautiful right?  I mean, I think she is.  She looks perfect in every way.  So it breaks my heart when she doesn't think so... and it breaks my heart even more when others don't think so.

Me:  So how was the weekend while me and Kole were camping?
Wife:  Pretty good.  We spent a lot of time at the beach.
Me:  Oh cool.  Fun?
Wife:  Yup, we got ice cream from the Ice Cream Boat and the kids were even playing with other kids at the beach.
Me:  Did they make some new friends?
Wife:  Well, no, not really.  D was playing with G and Ping, giving them horse back rides in the water.  They were laughing and having a great time.
Me:  He's a great big brother.
Wife:  Yea, they were all playing so nice.  Then another group of 3 small girls, about the ages on Ping and G started making their way over.  Drawn by the laughter and everyone having a great time.  Ping called them over, and said that they could play with D, and help her "get him!".
Me:  Sounds fun.
Wife:  D and G eventually made their way back to the beach out of the water, and were playing in the sand.  Leaving Ping and the 3 other girls alone.  Quickly, I could see that something was wrong.  Ping started looking back towards the shore when I was sitting, and I could just tell something was wrong.  So I waved her in, and she came out of the water.  Immediately, I could see that she was starting to cry.  She then broke into a run once on the sand and stopped just in front of me.  She wanted to throw herself on me and cry, but she knew better than to climb on me when she is wet.  But I could tell she needed a cuddle so I told her to climb up on my lap.  She did, and then she started bawling.  Crying like we haven't heard in months.
Me:  Oh no, what happened?
Wife:  Well, it took a couple of minutes for her to calm down enough to even talk.  I was asking her what happened, did she get hurt, but all she could say was "I don't know what happen.  You have to talk to their Mommy."  But I couldn't talk to the other Moms until I knew what happened!  Finally she calmed down enough to say "They say my skin is brown, and dirty and that it is ugly.  They say I dirty and then splash me in the face."

My daughter!  Ugly?!  Dirty?!  Quick, scroll back up to the pictures... I can't see it.  
Now, pre-adoption, I would have probably though along the lines of "oh well, kids are just picking on her.  If there was something else more obvious, if she was fat, if she was wearing her glasses, they would have picked on that"... but no, this was racism, at a very young age.

Me:  Oh.  What did you do?
Wife:  Well, once I calmed down enough, I went over to the other three Moms and told them what their children said.
Me:  Did they do anything?
Wife:  Oh yes, they all jumped up and went to the water and grabbed their kids, and started giving them the gears.  Then then came back to clarify exactly who said what.  I was glad to see that they seemed to actually care.  Then,  they made their kids go and apologize to Ping.
Me:  Wow.  You handled that great.
Wife:  I know eh!  I mean, I've punched little old ladies in the back of the head because they said Kole was blocking their view during the circus.  I've yelled at that little boy at the beach when he was being mean to our kids last summer. I didn't event think of being mean to these kids or their Moms!
Me:  I know.  I'm so proud of you!  Look at you growing and becoming a better person.  You didn't think about accidently knocking the kids into the water and then holding them under for a minute or two.
Wife:  No, I didn't!  I really don't like stupid people, and I have no patience for them.  But I even thanked the other Moms for dealing with their children so quickly and properly.  But this was it.  I mean, we've had racist comments before from people, but this is the first one that Ping understood.
Me:  Yea, first step, first words, first racist comments... all great milestones in our children's lives.

There is no room for racism in our world.  It should not be tolerated, and people should not have to deal with it.  When the wife explained what happened to Ping to the other kids, both D + G wound up breaking down into tears and crying.  I think, I hope, I pray, our children understand it.  I know they will never "get it", not like Ping will.  I've mentioned before that she started asking why her skin is brown... so she is aware.

As parents, siblings, friends, and family of our internationally adopted... no wait, as parents, siblings, friends and family of ANY mixed family... no, wait again.  As humans... as people who love and respect Gods children, we have to stand up for and protect all peoples.  I don't care adopted, mixed family, visible minority, etc...  Racism sucks.

Even if you are a white family, living in rural Saskatchewan and you have never seen a visible minority walking down your dusty tumbleweed infested farming community, you can help stop racism so beautiful children (like mine) never have to collapse into the loving arms of their mother and cry while trying to come to terms with the fact that someone doesn't like them simply because of the colour of their skin.


  1. Definately why we need to talk about racism from day one with our kids in natural everyday conversation. We can say race doesn't matter but it does to my 7 year daughter who is the target of it too.

    We are very open with the fact that people will judge her by the colour of her skin, make assumptions about her abilities because of the colour of her skin, and get her to start processing and challenging those ideas now.

    Believe me it is not a simple "don't listen to those people" kind of conversation. That doesn't make it any less painful for her or make it go away. It really is about giving her information about racism and how it really hurts and has hurt people in the past. Facts, stories, (e.g. think Rosa Parks who challenged racism) I'm trying to keep the facts age appropriate at this point, and I imagine we will be discussing this for years to come.

    So sorry this happended to your daughter. It's not acceptable behaviour.


  2. That totally sucks! I am so very sorry that Ping is dealing with this already. My stepkids are half Hispanic and we've had a few instances of racims towards them over the years (that we are aware of!).

    Around age 7 or 8 a girl told my SD that she wouldn't sit next to her because she has 'curly' hair and she (the girl) doesn't like curly hair. Each of my stepkids have been told by other kids on at least one occasion to "go back to Mexico."

    It sucks and there is nothing we can do about it except talk about it and try to prepare them for the hard realities of what they may face from all the jack*s in the world.

    Josie started talking about all of us having different skin at least a year ago (then hair, eyes, etc). Here are some books for kids that you might like if you haven't seen them yet.

    “The Skin I'm In: A First Look at Racism,” by Pat Thomas, Lesley Harker (Illustrator) This book discusses racism and talks about situations that I think young kids can understand.

    “The Skin You Live In” Michael Tyler (Author), David Lee Csicsko. A poem type book that celebrates different colors of skin.

    “I Like Myself!” Karen Beaumont (Author), David Catrow (Author) A fun book about being seen as different and not caring what other people think. My girls LOOOOVE this book. Especially the page with the big hair.


  3. The whole thing lasted quite a while, they must of been 'at her' for a while before she finally clued in to what they were truly saying. About 30 minutes.

  4. Oh Roberta, I'm so sorry that little Ping had to endure this! How sweet that the other child had such empathy for her. It's good to know that the other mothers stepped into correct their children once they were aware of the situation. Praying that Ping's heart will heal quickly from this incident!

  5. I'm so sorry that this happened and I pray that little Ping's heart heals. I read about this on the yahoo group and you both have handled this so well. I guess it's a reminder to all of us how some will perceive our little ones and that we need to be prepared when the time comes. Again, prayers for Ping and all of you!

  6. Oh Beautiful Ping! My stomach began to hurt as I read this post. I know that people deal with racism all the time and we have not been faced with it in our lives. We may very well be faced with it in the future. I think Roberta handled it perfectly. I will be praying for Ping's little heart and mind to be mended from the incident and to grow stronger from it;. I will also pray that the other little girls will learn from it, realize the hurt, and grow to make a difference.

  7. What amazes me the most I think, is that Ping actually was able to move past that moment and enjoy her day.
    Not to long ago, something like that would have ended the day for her. She would not have recovered gracefully from it.
    Now, she even was willing to allow the girls to come back and play with her again... although she was a little 'guarded' the 2nd time the kids tried to play with her.
    Yup, I'm pretty darned proud of my Ping, and wife... she did great too. :-)

  8. Go, Roberta!!! So sorry for your sweet and lovely Ping...and all those hurt by this ugliness. :o(

  9. This sucks; like I said at work, it surprises me to hear this, given how multi-cultural Canada is. One of the reasons I love it here. We always try to explain things to our little one; e.g. why I wear glasses, why someone is in a wheel chair, why people have different coloured skin etc.

  10. I have been sitting here with an empty "Post a Comment" box for quite some time now. I know that I need to say something about this....just not sure whether to come from the "This makes me so mad!!!" perspective or the "This makes me so sad...." perspective. This day has not come for us yet, at least not the one that directly affects Clarissa, but I know that it will. I will digest and try to put some thoughts on my site.

  11. I am sorry this happened to your beautiful daughter. This was a great post and I totally would have held those kids under the water. Sometimes it's nice to be the least evolved human in the family...:)

  12. Oh my gosh, that literally made my heart hurt.

  13. Wow. I needed a reminder that this does, can, and will happen. I just don't think about it happening with kids so young. Ugh. But I am also wowing at the way that Roberta and Ping handled this situation. I hope that should the need arrive, I will be able to step up for my daughter in a similar way. Thank you, Roberta, for such a good example.

    And, while I haven't used it with my daughter yet, I have a book ready when needed. It is a Sesame Street book called "We're Different, We're the Same, And We're all Wonderful." It talks about how noses can look different, but they are all used for smelling, etc. I like it, but I have always adored Sesame Street. :-)

    So glad Ping recovered. I always tell my kids that our family is our safe spot.

  14. wow it shocked me that at such a young age those girls would have such racist statements in them and that they would say them to beautiful ping and taunt and hurt her that way made me feel sick inside.
    so happy their mothers took action and sooo sooo proud of r for handling it with such calm maturity.
    not sure i could or would have been able to.
    that d and g were so upset they cried and that ping recovered shows what a great job you and r are doing as their parents.