When Racism Attacks

This was not the post that should have happened today. You will get that one tomorrow. In fact, this was the post that I hoped I would never have to write. Sadly, it turns out that hoping was not enough to avoid this. The hope that the world is in a better place is full of disappointment.

On days when my oldest has baseball practice, we all pile in the car to go. We take this opportunity to let our youngest blow off all of that energy. It usually doesn’t work, but at least he has fun? Normally this is uneventful. Yesterday, it was not. To preface this story, this playground is a very diverse one. Off all places, I certainly would not have thought my youngest son’s first brush with racism would be here. I was actually hoping it never would happen, but deep down I knew it was going to happen eventually. But I definitely did not expect it to happen here, at 4 years old, at the hands of a little girl a few years older.

This little girl was playing Frisbee, so naturally Georgie wanted to join in. George is a very sweet and friendly child, everyone who meets him seems to just love him. So being 4 at a park, he tried to join in. Then it happened. “No! I’m not playing with you, Chinese boy.” George was hurt by this and started to cry. We were appalled and very pissed by this. However, George thankfully didn’t realize the true scope of what just happened. He was sad because the girl didn’t let him play. We didn’t expect it because the girl (who was white) was playing with another girl (who was not). But alas, here we are. While calming George down, it was made very clear and loudly that some kids were not raised to have manners and he was immediately removed from the park.

I am not sure if my husband was more mad about the situation itself or the fact that she got the wrong Asian country. Either way, it’s bad but apparently it stings all the more when it isn’t even the right nationality. It seems that being called the wrong nationality is offensive across the board. I couldn’t relate to the situation; I’m a white girl who grew up and currently lives in a middle class neighborhood. I have never experienced racism nor have I ever participated.  I was raised better than that. My husband, on the other hand, is half-Korean. He grew up with this. Even today, he has to deal with racial slurs being tossed his way. I am offended about this for my son’s sake; my husband is offended and completely understands the situation. Thankfully, George didn’t understand this time. But what happens next time?

I don’t blame the little girl. This is something that she would’ve learned from her parents. I blame them entirely for somehow, whether purposefully or inadvertently, teaching her that this type of behavior was perfectly acceptable. I knew this was going to happen to him eventually as we still live in a culture where racism is somehow deemed acceptable. Too many people think that racism is eradicated or that now only white people are victims of racism. No one is safe and this problem is only going to get worse.

I spent a lot of time looking at my son after this. I never really saw him as an “Asian” boy. We make sure that he knows he is Korean, bringing up on the culture and food, but that this is not what defines who he is. He may be Korean, but ultimately he is just my little Georgie. I didn’t notice the unique pale of his skin or the adorable semi-almond shape of his eyed, these little subtleties that I just thought made him absolutely adorable are the things that this world is going to focus on whenever they see him. I hugged my baby so long yesterday, apologizing to him for the harsh realities of his future.

I was not prepared for this. I hoped I’d never have to be ready for this, but here we are. I may not be able to understand the pain of being picked on for my race, but I certainly know that I have to start educating myself on how to handle this when he can understand. I hope this is a one time thing, but I have this sick feeling in my stomach that this is not the last time. It will probably happen when I’m not around to protect him or he’s too old for me to cuddle this away. Our culture needs to change. We need to be better. Our children are depending on us.

Advertisements

When It Comes to Your Children

Children are unique beings. You can even look at your children and pick out some of their differences from their siblings. You may even find that your children are complete opposites of one another. This is the exact place that my boys are in. For instance, my oldest is this sweet and patient child. He was always curious, but very timid. He was calm and rarely found himself in trouble. Even now, he is a child that is well-regarded by every adult who meets him. And how can they not? He is very polite around them and speaks articulately to them as if he is a little adult. In fact, he may very well be an adult stuck in a very small teenager’s body. (I still cannot believe that I have to refer to him as a teenager.)

My youngest, on the other hand, makes other people tired just watching him. He is the definition of “trouble”. He’s curious, adventurous, and very, very willful. He is definitely not calm and he is nowhere near patient. Still, much like his brother, every adult that meets him falls instantly in love with him. He’s not a bad kid. He just requires a little bit more love and attention than other kids. In his 4 years on this planet, I have gone through situations I had never been through before. He needed surgery at 9 months old to remedy a birth defect. He was the first child to require special services at home, with a speech pathologist and a developmental specialist. I have to deal with IEP meetings and teacher conferences. This is the important point to this post.

In 2 weeks, we will have a meeting for his IEP, transition to Kindergarten, and if he stays in the program. We will also talk about his recent evaluation which revealed George to have a sensory integration disorder, something that sounds a lot worse than it actually is, and how the schools need to adjust to his needs. We will find out if he still gets speech therapy in grade school. We will find out if he still has an IEP. These are important things to know because with things like the IDEA act in question right now (who knows what is going to happen especially with plans to get rid of the department that is responsible for enforcing this act). Will my child continue to get the help that he needs?

Without the help that he has received, which fortunately I never had to fight for, will he thrive as well as he has? He’s a bright 4 year old that may still be behind on his speech but he can read. He is exactly the type of kid that would have once been left behind by the school system because he’s different. Realistically, he is a child that would have just been tossed in a special needs classroom in the past and forgotten. Which is a shame because he is a very bright child that if they could just get him to focus and settle down, he could go on to do great things in the future.

What is the point of this whole statement? There are a lot of things that charter schools and private schools do well, but when it comes to children like mine they are not the best places for them. These are schools that are best for children that fit in a specific mold and are not different. There is a place for public schools and there are a lot of great public school districts (like mine, for instance) that are going to suffer if they start losing money. Some districts need help to change to become better schools but that should be something to focus on rather than punishing the school districts who are thriving. When you start to take money from the schools that offer services to children in need (such as IEP students), there is a strong chance that these kids will lose these services. These children will be forgotten again. This is what I’m afraid of. When it comes to our children, sometimes we are the only ones who are willing to fight so we need to be their biggest advocates and put on the gloves.