Sunday, August 12, 2012

Handling racial discrimination in the 21st century

I always knew that raising biracial daughters would require many discussions on topics of culture and race and the day would come that they would have questions. Those days have arrived on multiple instances and we have discussed in as much depth necessary until they are satisfied and understand the concept. We have always read books and discussed cultural differences when ever questions arise or I find myself in a "teachable" moment to share with them. I provide them with information before hand, not to taint their innocence, but in order that when the instance arises they are ready to handle the situation. 

When I began dating my college sweetheart and now husband, I quickly became aware of many instances of racism and discrimination. Some instances were explicit, some implicit.  Growing up in rural WV, I wasn't naive in believing that racism ended with the Civil Rights movement, but was strongly aware that racism still existed in the 21st century. Still, I have never completely understood how many adults still allow for so much hate to consume their lives.  Moving our family to an urban, northern city has minimized these experiences, but not eliminated them.
Now remember, The U.S. Supreme Court overturned racial segregation in schools fifty years ago. Congress outlawed racial discrimination in public places forty years ago. Still today, many white Americans believe racial discrimination towards minorities is a distant memory. A reminder of how wrong that perception is recently occurred with me and I feel compelled to share. 
I was reminded that I'm thankful that at five and six my daughters' innocence still allows them to not be aware of implicit discrimination.  I'm thankful that while waiting in line to go bowling they didn't realize that we were completely ignored when it was our turn at the cashier and the owner looked right past us to the customers behind us.  I'm grateful the other customers acknowledged our presence.  I'm thankful that they didn't realize while we stood in line to pay for the second round of bowling the owner said, "I guess I'm going to have to move that family, since your staying."  I'm grateful this wasn't too much of an inconvenience to him that his 12 lane bowling alley only had one other family and there was plenty of room.  I'm thankful my children didn't realize the owner was so rude and implicitly racist that we had to ask or comment two to three times, waiting at times 5-10 minutes to be acknowledged of concerns when every other family was approached multiple times without requesting his presence to make sure they were enjoying themselves and how he could possibly accommodate their visit.  I'm grateful of the innocence of children when arrogant small business owners dare to say, "GOD bless you" as we left.  I don't know about his GOD but my GOD teaches love and respect of ALL, not just those that look like you!

I prepared myself to explain to my children why racism still exists.  I prepared myself to explain discrimination.  But the problem is, I still don't understand why it still exists. 


  1. It is surprising racism is still around. My friends just adopted an African-American baby and they are seeing some racism because they are white. They are prepared, but still leery about going to certain places.

  2. I have had similar conversations through the years with my own children (white)on the subject of discrimination and racism. They are not victims but have certainly been witness and our talks centered on the need for them to be a part of its abolition.

    Today I have that conversation with my students. Other people's children whom are subject to the ignorance of the world on a regular basis. I try hard to balance my (albeit ill placed) grief at their African American plight with my logic that if they do not learn, at a young age, to respond 'appropriately' to these insulting onslaughts it will forever be perpetuated in their lives. THROUGH NO FAULT of their own. Poor babies.

  3. Ah I figured out how to put a user name in here :D

  4. Racism is real and it's scary that it's still very much alive. As you probably saw from my blog header my kids are biracial and we get comments all the time. I went to a blogger event the other day and some women kept calling my children the little black kids :(

    1. Jessica,
      I think the worst was a church event I attended when my oldest was first born. My husband and I weren't married yet and a woman approached me and asked, "What made you adopt being single and all?"