Heartbreak

My husband and I were naive. We thought we could move anywhere the Army sent us, find a home in a good school district, and go on about our business like most Americans. We thought our children would flourish regardless of race or racism. We thought that if anything, our children would not have to deal with bigotry because kids don’t think that way. It was the adults that we felt like we needed to worry about. We were so wrong.

When we first moved here there was an incident in my daughter’s Kindergarten class. She hadn’t even got settled quite yet. Her daddy was away in Afghanistan and she had just moved away from all of her friends. We told her to go into school with positive thoughts and to make friends, but someone told her she couldn’t play because she was black. Because she had an awesome teacher, the incident was handled in the best possible way. Towards the end of the school year, another incident regarding race, that I won’t even mention happened. We thought that the worst was over. Surely, this was just a fluke and as time went on and she found a good group of friends, these incidents would not happen again. Again, we were wrong.

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Yesterday, while getting ready for a day full of birthday parties, alone in our home because “the boys” were away, we discussed friendship. I told her that people have all sorts of reasons why they don’t want to be another persons friend and sometimes those reasons include things that a person can’t change. I was combing her hair in front of our bathroom mirror and I caught a glimpse of what I saw as sadness. She kind of looked into the mirror and said, “mommy, there is something I’ve been wanting to tell you”. Of course I gave her the floor and she told me of an incident that happened in the 1st grade and in the current grade of 2nd. The first incident involved a “friend” who told her, “kids did not want to play with you because you are black and there are a lot of mean black kids at the school, so they think you’re mean too”. The next incident happened this year (it’s only February) with a boy who told her, “I don’t like you because you’re black”. I asked her how that made her feel and she said, “it just makes me want to act nice and try to do my best, so people won’t think brown people are bad”. At that moment, I began to cry. I had no words of encouragement. I could not muster up the strength to be “strong”. I realized what a heavy burden she has been carrying and I was hurt because someone hurt my baby. She began to cry too and we moved out of the mirror onto the floor and cried together. I’m sorry if someone may see that as wrong, but our children need to be able to be children and human. They need to see their parents vulnerable and they need to know that when they hurt, we hurt too. I fought hard to get her here. How dare someone attempt to damage my baby?

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After crying for a bit, I told her that she had learned a lesson that most brown people learn later in life. The lesson is that people will lump you into a group like cattle and judge you by the actions of people who share the same skin color as you. However, when others do bad things, they are judged as individuals. I asked her if she remembered when those bad things happened in Kindergarten and how we told her to remember that was one bad thing and not to judge everyone or think that someone else would be the same. Unfortunately, my daughter isn’t afforded that same respect in this society. My goodness, she’s only 8. Why on Earth should she feel obligated to carry the entire black race on her back in her behavior, work ethic, or personality. I’m so angry. I’m so hurt. What is wrong with people? Every year, she has had to deal with this crap and everything has become clear.

We wonder sometimes why she is so timid. We wonder why she has to have everything perfect. We wonder why she is so much more comfortable in certain settings over others and we have wondered why she leaves school sometimes so emotionally drained. She is carrying too much for her little body. I watched her at the parties yesterday and I saw her, like really saw her. What we thought was personality is uncertainty. It’s not that she’s timid or shy, she just doesn’t want to make a mistake. I saw how comfortable she was at one party over another. Listen, the parents, teachers, and children are awesome, but it is that small minority that take their insecurities out on others. I don’t mean to brag, but my daughter is awesome. She is beautiful. She is intelligent, not like just book smart, but really intelligent. She is insightful. She’s an old soul destined to make a change in this world. This, her skin color, is the last thing someone feels they have over her and dammit, that makes my blood boil. We are not a home that teaches self-pride and hate. We are a home that teaches pride in oneself and also love and acceptance of others. I have to teach my children that because if I didn’t my daughter would be worse off than she is now. She knows that her skin color isn’t a negative, but what am I to do if at every turn someone is trying to tell her different. She knows who she is because she is the one who made this eloquent statement one evening, she said, “I have the beginning of time running thru my veins”. Yes, my dear you do and don’t you EVER forget it.

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This last incident has changed my husband and I. We were naive. We thought that because we were good people and at one point in time we would have given our lives for this country, we were afforded some type of respect. We know racism exists, but for an 8 year old to deal with this for all of her school years is just wrong. My husband has made the decision that when we move, we have to consider diversity, preferably an environment where our children are not the only ones. I don’t believe everyone goes through these types of things, so please don’t take this as a slight because I know there are many of us who are living in areas where we are the minority, but when asked what would give her the strength to speak up, she said, “mommy, I just wish I wasn’t the only one. I’m all by myself”. I don’t know how that feels. I don’t know how that will affect her later in life, so whatever we can do to help her heal from these “incidents” we have to do it.

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You know, I had a talk with a friend not too long ago about a comment that was not nice made by a woman in regards to black men and how she didn’t like them. This was a black woman no less, and I told her that it was wrong and I couldn’t just be quiet because my son is black. When she talks about black men in that regard, she’s talking about my son. I was told, “but he isn’t here”. I implore upon everyone who reads this blog to stop people in their tracks when they say things that are downright wrong. Stop the uncomfortable giggles. People have been shamed for being politically correct, but what is wrong with being correct. I, myself, have been silent in the presence of black women when they make disparaging comments about white women and that isn’t right. We have to stand up for one another. We have to shame people or at least stop them in their tracks because even if it isn’t about you, it’s still offensive and wrong and maybe one day, my grandchildren won’t have to go thru these same things. We will overcome this as we have overcome so many other things. Love will win.

Love and light y’all.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Heartbreak

  1. aww my friend, this makes my heart so sad. I have been through some of this with my own littles and in several different ways, not just race/color, but size, height, weight… so much bullying, especially unwarranted attacks. It is disheartening that people are still teaching their children intolerance for those who are different from themselves. I try so hard to teach my kids inclusiveness and acceptance, of themselves as who they are and of others, and it only takes one of these moments with their peers, to make them question it all.
    Your daughter has such a beautiful soul. I want it to soar! She deserves a world that treats her with respect, acceptance and appreciation for who she is as a person. I wish we could give it all to her and all the kids. I hope both your kids always feel loved and appreciated and welcome in my home and in my kids lives. Love you friend.

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  2. Normally, I read a few lines of any blog and decide whether I have time to read it now, or later. This was definitely a now moment. As a current military spouse, with a 7 year old, i concur with every bit of your sentiment. We have literally had the exact same issues. Exact. We too will be looking for diversity at the next base. Every single place we have been stationed, our son has been the only Black. Our first incident happened while stationed in Hawaii. We do our best to converse with our son about some of the issues he will face. In fact, his current school is about 96% White and of course, not much is being said about Black History Month. Welp, no worries…we got them covered!!! I spoke to teacher and requested that we give a special presentation since they only focused on Dr. King. My son will be presenting to his class this upcoming week about a notable African-American as I was not satisfied with him just simply learning about Dr. King. Plus, White kids need to know that our contributions were many, beyond Dr. King’s dream. His teacher didn’t object to it…maybe she didn’t want to deal with the backlash that would come with her telling us no (cuz trust, there most certainly would have been some!)? Who knows, but he is excited about it, and I am excited for him. Military life is hard on all involved, but no matter the circumstance, we must protect our children. Since I have a personal relationship with the greatest protector of all, I make my request to Him through prayer and sit back and let him work. Great post, from one mom to another.

    Janai

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  3. I cried real tears reading this, for the pain and hurt your little girl experienced far too young, and for the pain and hurt every other brown or black girl or any other visible minority lives with on a day to day basis. I am sickened by the rampant racism – systemic and otherwise – that does this to people who are good, kind-hearted…and children!

    I do hope the next place you move to there will be other children who have brown skin so your daughter doesn’t feel like she has to carry this burden alone. And you know…I have sometimes sat silently when I heard racist comments from people (coworkers, etc…). You have inspired me to be silent no more.

    Thank you for sharing your daughter’s story and your words. It means a lot to me. And FWIW – I would’ve gone onto the floor and cried right along with my daughter, too.

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  4. My heart hurts for Olivia, she is beautiful, smart, loving and kind. In this world there will always be ignorance about race, culture etc. But I know with parents such as you and Dave her zeal for life will shine through, she will be a game changer and lover of humankind.

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  5. This made me cry, Olivia is such a precious girl! She or any other children shouldn’t go through this. I am teaching my kids to not see people in color but to look into their actions and feelings. I hope next time you move you find more diversity! Hugs my friend!

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  6. Oh my goodness mama, this made me cry, cry, cry. You and your sweet daughter don’t deserve to be dealing with hurtful and hateful comments. Such ignorance, and from little kids. This makes my blood boil! Can’t imagine how you feel. Thanks for posting ❤

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