Just to clarify my son didn’t make the racist comment but he heard one and the circumstances of it are highly disturbing. I only found out later when I couldn’t create a “scene” which was probably a good thing.
I will recount the details briefly. Memorial Day found my family and I at my brother and sister-in-laws cabin. My sister-in-laws family was there with their trailers (I’m not making this up). One morning around the campfire my wife and 10-year-old son were hanging out with the other early risers (hence the reason I wasn’t there).
Two of our family friends were talking about the recent immigration bill being debated, nothing terrible there are at all. When suddenly my sister-in-law’s father chimes in with a tirade about how “filthy Mexicans are all theives”, you can quote that. My wife quickly gets everyone off the subject. My wife chose to not make a fuss since we were guests.
Later that evening when we are home Angela recounts this story to me. I was unhappy that I only found out after we left but it was probably best in the long run. So Angela and I had to decide what we were going to say to our son. Clearly he heard and we couldn’t let that information get filed away in his brain somewhere without at least having an opportunity to explain the rights and wrongs.
We sat our son down in his bedroom shortly before bedtime and I asked him what he thought about what he had heard. He said, “Well I thought to myself I better watch out for these people called Mexicans because they might take my wallet or something.” How sad I felt for him. Here he thinks that there is a band of roving, thieving people called Mexicans.
I explained to him first of all what a Mexican is (people from the country of Mexico) and the difference between how the real definition works (similar to American) and how it was being used (as a derogatory word toward anyone of Hispanic descent). I then explained to him that we have several friends that are Mexicans who came here for a better life and that some of his friends are children of at least one Mexican parent.
“They’re not thieves”, says my son. And that’s when you know your kids get it. I used this as an opportunity to put a little evolution into the mix. Explaining how we all come from a common ancestor and that some people with light-skin developed that way as an adaption to their environments and that some developed darker skin for the same reason. I explained how when groups get isolated from each other they can begin to develop different physical characteristics.
I then took it a bit of step/stretch further and asked him after all of this what was the biggest difference between light-skinned and darker-skinned people. Obviously that was a leading question, “The color of our skin” says my son. “Exactly. Do they love their fathers or sons any differently?” “No” “Does their skin color make them bad?” “No Dad that doesn’t make any sense.” What a perfect response.
Let me repeat and highlight that. “No Dad that doesn’t make any sense”.
I sure hope it never does make sense to him.
Filed under: Evolution