Something strange happened about a week ago. My son and I were watching my daughter play soccer and my son decided that he would wrap our little blanket around his shoulders and walk around saying he was Batman. At the end of practice, some of the children on my daughter’s team came over and asked him what he was doing. Of course, he informed them all that he was Batman. The children laughed and then started to point out why he really was not Batman. One kid asked him where his bat mobile was and another told him that his cape needed to be black, which were all very great observations, but the moment I heard, “you can’t be Batman because you don’t have a black cape” I got very scared. My heart started beating fast and I was literally frightened that one of the children would tell him that he couldn’t be Batman because he was not White.
It seems quite silly because children at this age don’t typically think or talk that way, but that has not been the case here. I have never felt so Black in my life. It is constantly at the back of my mind that someone is going to not only highlight my children’s race, but put them down for who they are. This fear does not come from out of the sky. I previously wrote about an incident at my daughter’s school where she was excluded because of her skin color and the outcome of that was more positive than negative. Unfortunately, another incident happened a few weeks ago where one of my daughter’s classmates told her that she was pretty, but would be prettier if she was White. I don’t believe the school handled it properly as I was never called and my daughter had to sit in the class with this on her heart for the rest of the school day. The little girl was removed from the classroom, but no conference with the parents and no real apology from the parents or child like in the previous incident. In fact, I was told to find some compassion in my heart for this child because her parents are not all that good, but I can’t…at least not yet.
The thing about this that people don’t quite understand is that the little girl who did this was in trouble for the day, while my daughter will live with these incidents for the rest of her life. She will never forget these things and I struggle every morning with sending her back to school. If a teacher or a school system was negligent in preventing the physical safety of a child, any parent would either pull their child out of the school or call the administration to the carpet for their practices; the same does not happen when a child is hurt emotionally. In fact, I believe if this was a physical altercation then I would have been called, the parents would have been brought in for a conference, and someone besides her teacher who wasn’t even there to witness the incident would not have to bear the brunt of trying to explain and makes sense of it all.
I thought of pulling her out and just homeschooling, but my husband told me that would inadvertently show her that something is wrong with her and that she did something wrong. She says that she knows that girl’s words were not true, but it still hurts. I think those words hurt so much that she wouldn’t have told the substitute teacher or me had it not been for two of her classmates seeing what happened and making a point of telling. It makes me wonder what is she internalizing. What is happening on the playground that she isn’t telling us? How does she feel being the minority and then having it pointed out in a nasty way. It also makes me fearful of what else is to come. When my son wants to play super heros, is someone going to exclude him because he’s Black. When my daughter goes to make a friend at the park and isn’t received well, is she going to go to a place that automatically feels the rejection has to do with the color of her skin.
I still believe that the good outweighs the bad, but I am genuinely afraid for them.