Ruby lives in a colorful world.
If she were to create a portrait of the major players in her life right now, she’d need the entire box of Crayola’s Multi-Cultural crayons. And I like it that way.
We have made conscientious, intentional choices to plant our family in diverse communities, and we have actively sought to engage in our communities. We’ve done our best to create a home and lifestyle that welcome and include people of color. But there are certain parts of life over which we have absolutely no control. Specifically, other peoples’ spouses.
The romantic couples in Ruby’s life are overwhelmingly monochromatic. Even the mothers and fathers in her favorite television shows “match” their partners. Off the top of my head, I can only think of three interracial couples that Ruby’s ever known, and she’s only known them peripherally.
My intelligent young daughter was able to observe the fact that interracial couples are different from the norm…uncommon, even rare. But she incorrectly interpreted that different and uncommon equaled illicit and undesirable. And who could blame her? Most things that are kept hidden are, in fact, illicit or undesirable.
As a society, we have progressed to the point where overtly racist statements are condemned and, at times, sanctioned. But that doesn’t mean that passive racist messages have been eliminated. That doesn’t mean that prejudiced viewpoints are no longer given air time.
I naively assumed that eliminating racist and prejudiced language from our home would insulate my daughter from what remained of society’s racist messages. I wanted to give her a chance to draw her own conclusions and make up her own decisions about the world.
My intention was to give her a neutral space. I accidentally created a cavernous void.
And the messages from society echoed again and again.
Silence is not the answer.
We must discuss these things with our children.
This post is the third in a series titled “But I’m Not Racist!” You can see the full list of posts here. Please join me as I carefully tread this sacred ground.