That’s too bad, because despite not understanding it, you fortunately helped provide your boys the experiences they needed to avoid making skin color a big issue. Most children are not in the same fortuitous circumstance, in that respect. If we all understood the roots of bigotry better, and what is needed to avoid it, we might actually have a chance to become a post-racial society.
That’s because 1. I didn’t understand it and 2. to me it seems natural to provide such an environment when your family is European-American, African-American, American Indian, and Greek. I grew up in a home that said, “You are Indian, but when you are outside this house, you are White” and I felt I was denying and denied part of myself. I never did understand why and yes, one of my favourite songs by Cher is “Half Breed”, even though I am 1/8. I wasn’t going to do that to my children. People have thought they are Latino, but they aren’t and some would even favour my older son, who is lighter over my younger son who is darker, which I thought was very stupid.
Roots of bigotry and racism is stupidity and sometimes ignorance. Children are taught to hate and discouraged to associate with some groups. IE The KKK raises their children to hate blacks, Jews, etc., not allowing their children to play with other children, unless they look pure white (whatever that is). This, for most of the adults stupidity and self-imposed ignorance because they have every chance to go out and meet people. For the children, it is forced ignorance and eventually, as they grow older, if they do not ask themselves (even with parents who are just racist and not of the KKK) “What makes said person “black as the ace of spades”? “Why is the neighbourhood going?” (as in “There goes the neighbourhood”) “How come they call it checker board classrooms?” “Why does my report card say that the school can’t tell who my teacher will be due to bussing?” (I actually asked my mother this because I read it on my last Kindergarten report card) “What’s a jiggaboo?” “Why do you/other people call them that?” “Why do you say colours (at the time that’s the word my grandparents used) have the “mark of Cain”? “Why do you call them “colours” when we too have a colour to our skin?” “Why do you call them black when most are brown?” “Why are we called white when we are pinkish and sometimes tan in the summer?” Then the BIG ONE I remember to this day, even though I was 4 or 5, but not blind to the current social situation due to being an only child who watched the news with the adults- my grandmother took me to Walgreens to sit at the lunch counter to watch the soda jerk get me an ice cream soda and I asked, “Grandma, how come there aren’t any black people in here eating too?” She hushed me very quickly and told me I ask too many questions and oddly enough, this was around 1970 in Alton IL that no black people were around at the lunch counter.
I really pushed the envelop as a child trying to understand the insanity, but all I could do was shake my head and say, “I don’t get it.” I grew up and started meeting people. When I met a black man and thought I was in love and had children by him, my relatives called it rebellion. It wasn’t rebellion. I truly thought I love him. Others called me a “n*g**r lover”, I didn’t appreciate it, but I still went home ask my husband why I was called that. He called me very naive and I guess I was. After I left my husband, my sons and I were in a “black neighbourhood” in St. Louis. I put it in quotes because some man, who was no white or black (I forget if he was Jewish or Latino) had a business there and there was a very tiny minority living there who were other than black living there. I had one son by the hand on a wrist leash and another in a stroller. They are 1/2 black, so I wasn’t worried, but these 4 tall and muscular black men (dressed like gang members) surrounded my babies and me and told me we didn’t belong there. I could not fathom why, so I turned around, crossed the street, headed back to the shelter (full of black women), crossed the street again, and went back into the shelter to tell what happened. They called the police, even though I didn’t want any trouble. A white officer and black officer came to question me as to what happened. Later I asked one of the staff people at the shelter why these men would say that, because my children are part black. She said, “You do belong here and they are just stupid.” They moved us to another shelter that was a majority of black people again, but in a neighbourhood that was more segregated. My sons and I were treated more fairly, without stupidity.
Even among my American Indian friends we were never treated like that. We were treated as humans who happen to be culturally mixed, searching, trying to learn who we are. We were even invited to a Sweat, in part because we, esp myself, wanted to learn.
My sons loved having friends from different backgrounds and when they started dating, they freely chose the girl they wanted to date, not based on skin colour, but by the personality they liked and appreciated. My older one doesn’t like loud, boisterous, women who verbally let you have it when they are angry and in his opinion, this excludes many black women. He like women who do not get loud and make a scene when they are angry, but rather talk out things, which in his opinion, includes many white women. This does not mean that if he finds a quite black woman he won’t date her, but it does mean he likes women who do not make a big scene, all out there, and all when they are angry, which he will admit scares him. He gets scared when a big beautiful black woman gets angry, loud, boisterous, and makes a scene. I assume this is probably because I’m more of a quite, more subdue, more gentle, angry person, keeping my anger between those I am angry with and not letting the whole world know and he grew up with this. Men generally look for a woman that reminds them of their mother in some way and in my older son’s case, it’s how they handle their anger. Now my younger son dates women with long natural hair, natural looking or no make-up, because he likes hair and the natural look. My older son like the natural look too, not heavily done make-up and fake hair (there are Black women who are going back to growing their natural hair). He also dates women who are for the most part quiet and demure. However, their choices of women is not based on colour, but rather on personality and natural look. To my older son, to use fake hair and too much make-up is to hide who you really are and he wants to meet the real person. If the real person is loud and enjoys making a scene, then they aren’t attracted to that.
That is the difference between judging a person on skin colour and judging a person by who they really are or, as I tried to teach them and as MLK Jr dreamed of, “not judging them by their colour of their skin, but by the contents of their hearts.” This also leads us to religion- there are a lot more superstitious black people than there are white people AND they blindly accept the religion that the slaver owners forced on their ancestors, without question. Yesteryear it was “Be a good slave and believe in god and ya’ll get your freedom in heaven.” Now it’s the silly Prosperity Gospel or whatever. Few people ever question what was past down to them by their ancestors or even why it was perpetuated over the centuries. Rarely are children told, “Here are all the religions and philosophies around the world. Go ahead and learn about all of them, ask questions, and then decide for yourself which one is right for you.” Most children are not allowed to question the religion their parents demand they accept, which is generally based on society and culture, not individual freedom and educated choice. If you noticed, MLK Jr. exposed himself to Gandhi, who was Hindu, even though he was Xian and stayed an Xian to the day he died. Coretta, I assume, did the same, because she seemed to share her husband’s views. IMHO, some of the better Xians and non-believers are those who have researched other religions, philosophies, and learned about people in general, whether they are gay or straight, black or white, American Indian or Indian, Episcopalian, Baptist, or Jewish or whatever, and looked at the person’s heart, without jumping to judgment calls first.
I don’t hate the person who says they are Islamic/Muslim, but I do hate what the extremists do to people and society. There in lies the difference, IMO, between hating a person for something that is external, not looking at what is in their heart, and hating a religion or action of a group of people. If that makes any sense at all.