Explaining Racism

My two kids are intellectually challenged. Despite their age they function at approximately 10 years old. The events of the news have impacted them and so we have to talk about it. It is hard to explain why folks who are not white are hurt by people in charge more often. It doesn’t make sense to them, I am glad it doesn’t as it should not be this way but it is.

I cannot explain white privilege to them as I am not sure how. I tell them both the rules are the rules but many many times when your skin is not white, like ours is, then you get punished for things you didn’t even do. Both kids were indignant and I am glad. They want to know why and I cannot answer that because there is no reason for it that I myself can understand.

Today we were on the bike path and several folks came past us as we walked and the kids rode bikes. After a family went past, M2 came up to me and whispered “Mom is it ok for me to say hi to that family because they are black? Is that going to make them mad because I am not black.” I reassure her that being friendly is being friendly regardless of the color of someone’s skin. She said she was confused because wouldn’t that family hate her since she was white like that cop. My heart broke but I said “Well let’s hope not but like with anyone, just be friendly and if they seem to not like you walk away keeping your mouth SHUT. Many people are hurting during these times and it is more important to be sensitive to why that might be happening.”

Later the same family came by and the younger boy fell off his bike. I approached him and asked if he was all right, keeping a distance because of COVID. He nodded his head. I asked if he needed help getting the bike off of him and he said no he had it. The woman with them saw me talking to him and walked A LOT faster toward us. I get it, it pains me I don’t mean any harm. I apologize and say “I didn’t mean to startle you I was just concerned he had gotten pinned under his bike.” The woman smiled at me, visibly relieved, at that point the older boy shoved the younger one playfully. The woman said “Knock it off, no pushing him you are bigger.” I smiled and said “Yep typical siblings, my brothers did the same thing to me.” She smiled and we parted ways.

My kids both looked at me and said “OK so our job is to be nice to everyone no matter what their skin color is because it is not fair to treat them meanly.” I said yes. M2 said “Well what if someone who is different then you hurts you do you have to be nice to them still.” Ugg what to say???? I paused and said “Well look if someone hurts you, then you need to let someone know but remember two things. The first is that sometimes people hurt you because they are coming from a hurting place themselves. The second is that just because one person with a specific color, shape, gender etc doesn’t mean ALL the folks that look like that will hurt you.”

I am not sure I covered it well enough but I am struggling hard to explain something I cannot understand myself. Pointers are welcome if any of my readers have them I am open to learning.

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