He who shall not be mentioned…

Now, as some of you may have noticed, I’ve been on a blog break.  Not by choice, really, but by the force of a mighty invader. My computer was infected you see, and terribly so. Not from the flu, but from something far worse. A corrosive virus. Not bacterial, not viral, just corrosive. I shall not rant and rave about it here, but get to the matter at hand as I finally have my computer at home. And he is clearly happy at being back. Yes, it is a he, and his name is Charles. Right, yes, moving on.

In case you were wondering, this post is not about ‘ He who must not be named,’ or J.K. Rowling or Harry Potter. It is however, about he whose name shall not be mentioned.

When she got in the car, my daughter mentioned that something upset her at school today. She is rarely upset by much, a. because so far, she stays out of  mischief and b. she is friends with everyone. A class mate has said to her, when she went to get a piece of tape, something to the effect of “hold on, whites go first.” Later he said to her, that wasn’t what he meant. Well, what did he mean? I don’t quite know. Ordinarily, we would discuss this at the dinner table, but she prefers to think about it quietly. This was the first time the color of her skin was brought to her attention.  She is quite philosophical and knows I was involved with Race 2012, bringing attention to a topic, many don’t want to talk about. She then asked me if he knew he was being racist? That was a shock to my system because It was the first time I have ever heard her use the term. However, it allowed me to model tolerance by having a lovely conversation about things children may say, based on what they hear, and why that would be a great opening for a discussion with the entire class. She was too upset to talk to her teacher today, but will do so tomorrow as she can relay the whole incident, she hopes, without feeling sad. I have decided I will only get involved if she can’t handle it herself. This sort of thing is extremely unusual at the school and they have absolutely no tolerance for these types of incidents. It involves quite a few consequences. Here’s the thing, my daughter does not want her class mate to get into any trouble, because the child is a friend. She would like her class mate to be aware that a comment about the color of one’s skin, should not be thrown out flippantly, because it is derogatory. I have allowed her to express her feelings of tolerance, by also allowing her to express her hurt.  It is reassuring to her that I trust her judgement, for now. I can’t go all Race 2012 on her as much as I would like to, she won’t understand any of it. So what would you do my dear readers, would you get involved? or would you allow your child the freedom of expression and decision-making?

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10 thoughts on “He who shall not be mentioned…

  1. When my kids were little we lived next door to an African American family. My son, who was in kindergarten at the time, would call them the brown family. He wasn’t being racist, he didn’t understand that there were different races at all, he just described them as he saw them, sort of like saying the redhead or the blond. In my mind, little kids are not usually racist and he might have innocently been trying to describe. It would be a shame to get him in big trouble for something he didn’t really mean. Just my opinion though 🙂

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    • See, I don’t want to make a big deal about it because 10- 11 yr olds will deal with things the way they are supposed to. We don’t talk about race at home so my daughter was a little taken aback that her friend said it to her and because she is friends with absolutely everyone in her class, she was a tad hurt. I am not stepping in. I think she’s pretty smart :-)She prefers to talk to her teacher and doesn’t want to get her friend in trouble whatsoever. I have to allow her that freedom. She is quite tolerant and doesn’t like drama, so she may do nothing at all.

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    • The more I think about it Monica, the more I don’t want this child to get into trouble. My daughter doesn’t want it either. Does this mean we shouldn’t say anything to the teacher, she is very strict and might make a big deal or do I ask her to talk to the class in general? Hmmm, really not sure because I want my daughter to be able to handle it.

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      • My feeling is you need to nip it in the bud. You don’t say anything, then it finds a way to keep growing. He’s young, he probably doesn’t know what he was saying (though, where did he hear it?). I think something needs to be said, so I would tell the teacher and tell her how you feel about not wanting to get the child in trouble. Maybe it’s a lesson for the entire class. But if you don’t say nothing, it’s almost the same as giving it permission to continue. What happens when the next child is hurt by similar words? Hopefully, the teacher will know what to do. Another option is to talk to the principal, if you’re worried the teacher might overreact. Silence isn’t golden. And you won’t be doing this child any favors by not teaching right from wrong.

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      • Monica, you know I wondered the same thing… where did this child hear this? on tv? watching a movie? where? A lesson for the class without getting the child into trouble might be the best way to go. I agree, silence isn’t golden at all. My daughter learned a few things in the process…that she has supportive class mates, that she has a voice and the ability to tell her friend, it’s not okay to say what he did. She is now aware this may not be the first time she will hear these things.. Middle school is fast approaching. Yikes.

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  2. I would find it hard not to step in, but perhaps allows ‘her’ freedom of speech..maybe invite said friend over for tea and a quiet little discussion could be had? Children can be so hurtful and derogatory in their comments to other children. It’s a hard call my lovey, as you write this child may not have meant it in the way it came out..we are all but human and sometimes even as adults we say things that don’t come out correctly. A lesson will perhaps will be learnt along the way, probably one that her friend needs, and had no idea of what he was exactly saying? He has probably heard this on TV or Movies, or sadly in his own home. Strike the younger generation whilst the iron is hot..in the hope that they will see we all have blood, we all breathe, no matter the colour of our skin. xx

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    • Hello my lovely Mumsy,
      It is certainly a hard call. Will write more about this via email. I think this child has definitely heard it somewhere else because he didn’t have a clue as to the impact of his words. At age 10 and 11, it’s a tough call. My girl has talked to her teacher about how it happened and how she felt. I left it up to her as she wanted to handle most of it. They had a community meeting about it in class today and everyone got to express how they felt and what it means when a friend gets hurt. I think she did a great job, walking away from the class mate and telling him it was not a nice thing to say. However, she wanted to avoid a note going home and didn’t want her class mate to get into trouble, unfortunately that couldn’t be avoided and I am cringing as I think about this little kid. Sigh.
      xxx

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  3. I wish I knew what to suggest. I don’t have children, but it seems to me 10 or 11-year-olds are old enough to, at least, be engaged in dialogue about racial issues. The child may be saying something he heard a parent or other adult express and may not understand the implications of what he said. I agree that it’s an opportunity for class discussion on racism, if nothing else.

    Sorry your daughter had to experience this.

    Hugs,
    Kathy

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    • Thank you Kathy so kind of you to leave me comforting words. I agree. At 10 and 11, a dialogue about race is always a good thing. My daughter seems at peace with the whole thing and they have had a great community meeting in her class about fostering tolerance and kindness and not stepping back in time. Her class mate had apologised to her and hopefully they will all move on from this, more aware of how heedless words can hurt. I’m pretty certain this young person had no idea what sort of an impact these words would have, he must have heard it somewhere. Makes me wonder where?
      Hugs

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