Thursday, February 12, 2009

Out of the Mouth of My Babe

Okay, I'm not even sure I should share this. I'm hoping some other parents out there have experienced a similar horror and can relate.

I was sitting at the table with Sweetie, keeping him company while he did his homework. He was busy cutting and gluing when out of his mouth, out of the blue, fly the following words: "Mom, did you know white people are better than black people?" WHAT?? I just sat there for a second, with my mouth literally hanging open. I knew I had to say something, but I needed a bit of time to get a grasp of what he just said.

As background, The Ex and I are about as WASPy as you can get these days. He is a blue-eyed blonde from a judeo-christian family; his mother is first generation American citizen by birth (her parents were born in Italy) but his father's family has been here for a long time. I am a fair skinned brunette with ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower. We are pretty much lovers of everybody (except each other [wink]). We live in a diverse neighborhood and Sweetie has always been in multi-cultural schools and classrooms. In fact, he was the only "whitey" in his kindergarten class; it was a beautiful blend of children with all different skin colors, and he is one of only two "whiteys" in first grade. To my knowledge, neither The Ex nor I have ever talked about anyone in terms of skin color in front of our kids; it just doesn't come up in conversations, with each other or with others.

After I got over the initial shock, I cross-examined Sweetie about where he would get such an idea. Turns out, in his study of Abraham Lincoln as we approached Lincoln's birthday, he learned a little bit about slavery. To my horror, he learned that all the rich and powerful white guys had black slaves, and that was because whites are better than blacks. He did NOT learn, however, that slavery was so wrong that our country fought a war over it!! He did NOT learn, however, that those rich and powerful white guys were wrong!! Oh. My. God. So, I took a deep breath and explained, in as age-appropriate terms as I could, what was so wrong with slavery. I was encouraged when he said "I feel really bad that I said that, Mom. Slavery was mean."