Friday, July 8, 2016

what a three year old taught me about kindness

There has been a lot of hate and anger and nastiness spread across the internet in the last few days in the wake of the incidents in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas. And while not surprising, it is truly heartbreaking.  It is such a scary world out there for all people, regardless of race, and it is sad to see people being attacked because of the profession they chose or the color of their skin. I have been losing sleep over the safety of my sister, cousins and friends who wear the badge. I have been worried about the world that my biracial nephew will grow up in and how he will be treated because of the color of his skin.

Tim and me, March 2016

This past week I have had more than one person say to me that I have never experienced racism because I am white and, while I will never know what it's like to experience racism as a black woman, I have felt the effects of racism because my nephew is biracial. I haven't openly shared this experience on the blog but I think now is as good a time as any to do so because we can all learn so much from the innocence of a child.

Natalie and B were in New Jersey visiting family and Michelle called to ask if I could watch Tim while she went to a training for the police department. Absolutely. She had been helping me out so much, plus I love getting some 1 on 1 time in with my small friend. And while I mentioned in my post about my day with him how proud I am of the person he is becoming, I didn't go into much detail about it. 

Tim, November 2014

Michelle and I met at the grocery store by my house as I had to pick up some things for Tim and I to have for breakfast.  He happily hopped into the cart, something I relished since Natalie was at the beginning stages of her anti-cart campaign. We walked the aisles of the grocery store, picking up odds and ends and chatting away, happy as could be. He proceeded to sing me a song about dinosaurs or Paw Patrol or whatever it was he was obsessed with at the time. In the middle of his song, a woman standing next to me in the aisle and I made eye contact, I smiled. She looked at him and then back to me and said "I'm so sorry." Without thinking twice I responded "Right? It's a little annoying. I am sure it's only phase and we'll be into superheros or trains or something else soon enough."

"No" she said, looking at Tim one more time and then back to me "I'm sorry about him." And then the light bulb went off and I lost it. "How dare you" I said, louder than I should have. "No. I'm sorry about you. I'm sorry that you are so ignorant that you would miss out on the joy and the happiness that is time with this child because you can't see past the color of his skin. I'm sorry that you are such a racist, ill-raised, ass--" And I was cut off... by Tim.

"Tori. Tori. Tori."

I turned, "what Tim!"

"Mom says we don't talk to people that way." 

And just like that. A three year old reminded me that even though there are people in the world with hate in their hearts, we don't talk to people that way. While I know Tim did not understand why I was so angry with the woman in the store and what she thought about the color of his skin, he knew that anger and hate and being nasty is not the answer. Being nice and being kind will always be the answer. If only we all retained the innocent thinking of children. If only we were all a little more kind.