Monday, February 17, 2014

Black Girl, White Mom: Part 2

So my last post, I stomped my mama bear paw and pointed my finger and wondered out loud.

Was it possible, just merely possible, that I watched my daughter experience racism?

I wondered, with doubt, given "our day and age" the "setting and circumstance."

I wondered because frankly I don't want to believe this is what I saw.

I don't want to believe that happened.

The weekend continued with much discussion and thought, as I expected it would.

I've had lots of comments both public and private.

The more that people say to me, with completely pure intentions, let it go, you probably misunderstood the situation, the less able I am to stop replaying it.

I do truly know all the different variations on kids will be kids and mean girls and bullying and so on. I really do.  I grew up the weird kid. The super short kid. The kid with glasses. The kid with the dental head gear. I had kids pick on me for things I didn't even think of.

I know that my kid can often be a big old pain in the butt and people don't want to be around her.

In the vein of kids will be kids, I know that sometimes kids do just ignore other kids for no other reason than they can.

My family moved around a lot when I was in school. Just the luck of the draw. Navigating social waters could be tricky.

I know what it's like to be shunned and ignored.

My first week of high school in a small town, I was the new kid.  I moved into the tiny city the summer between 8th grade and high school.

That first week, not a single student spoke to me.

Not. One. Word.


As far as I can tell, it was because I was the new kid.

Things happen. To all of us.

I wonder though, if the blog responses, your responses, had been different if I had laid out my feelings and my daughters experience and never ever shared that she was the only black child on  her team.

I wonder if your responses would have been different if I had never used words like racism.

Part of what's getting to me and making me think, no, I'm not wrong, I saw what I saw and what I saw was my daughter experiencing racism, is how many of you are saying to me, you probably saw something else.

Why does it ruffle feathers so much?

Another piece of the puzzle, that is sort of cementing the issue for me, is the oblivious consent by omission from the other parents present.

These are still little kids we're talking about. These are little girls, still at the ages where we as moms are still really jumping in, hands on, trying to coach and teach our kids the ins and outs of making and keeping good girl friends. This is the age where we are still helping our kids make introductions to each other and help them make small talk and find things in common.

And yes, before you ask it, I did, on the very first day, go with my girl and help her make those introductions. We tried hard to make the small talk and start the connections. I know they don't happen instantly. I never expected her to play on this team and make a lifetime best friend.

I did hope though, for some smiles and small talk for her.

What I saw this weekend though, struck me as something that is bigger and stretches further than my girl being shunned by a few other girls.

I noticed that I was the only parent noticing.

None of the other parents saw what I saw.

I saw my girl walk over to the after game area. She was one of the first ones there, because she was walking alone. She picked a spot to sit, right in the middle!

Way to go, Little Miss. Stick yourself back in, even if they have given you the cold shoulder for an hour. She put her water bottle on the table in front of her chair. Then she got up to come hug me. She went back to her spot to find no chair left for her.

It happens.

Kids do stuff.

But there were moms in chairs sitting by their girls. They looked like tired moms, even if they were 20 years my junior, with this little 7 year old princess being their oldest. I'm sure they never gave a second thought to the one little girl without a chair.

That is part of what bugs me. They didn't give her a second thought. Why?

Not one offered up a chair to my girl.

She didn't complain or ask. She just stood through the coach talk time. No big deal really. It doesn't take long.

She didn't ask or complain when everyone was handed a snack and she was skipped over until the girl passing out the snack noticed there was one left in the bag. The girl handing out the snacks was sitting next to where my girl was standing, and she didn't start passing out treats with herself. She finished up with herself. Then noticed.

Mountain out of a molehill, you say to me.


Kids just being kids.

Could be.

Maybe she is too shy or too much.

That could be it.

It probably isn't what you're thinking it is.

It can't be what you are so boldly and rudely saying it might be.

Not among all these affluent, well educated, Christian, team playing, well meaning, genuinely good natured and well intentioned pale people.

I wonder, no, I need to know what it is that makes my black daughter invisible in a sea of pink people.

And I need to learn in a hurry how to be her mama because I suddenly see so very clearly that I can't just go about mothering her the way I would if she were pink like me.

Being a mom is being a mom, right?

That's what you're thinking right?

I always thought so, right up until the moment I realized my daughter was invisible.

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