Tuesday, October 7, 2008

(Imagine a really, really profound title...)

I've greatly appreciated watching Sofi become aware that not all people look/sound/act alike. In particular I've enjoyed watching her adjust to the different races. We live in a town that is fairly diverse, particularly for a town its size. There's a large population of Hispanics, Russians, Asian exchange-students and (of all things) Kurds, in addition to your usual Southern-small-town smattering of African-Americans. So she's gradually been introduced to a wide variety of people that do not look or sound like her. And you know what? She's been fine with that. It hasn't really affected her beyond a casual curiosity about what it would be like to have different color skin or eyes or hair.

And there's the key. The thing that inspires me.

I grew up in the South. My parents were in no way even remotely affected by race, but the larger community around us seethed with undercurrents of racism. As I got older I became more and more aware of this, and more and more uncomfortable. A local pool that we joined had an unspoken policy of segregation. An acquaintance mentioned that her pastor taught that "blacks were of the accursed race". My dear Great-grandmother, saint that she was, called the 30-some year old African-American man who cut her grass, "the colored boy". Etc. It was all around. And it made me become self-concious about the way I spoke around people of other races. Afraid that something I said might be mis-construed or cause unforeseen offence.

But at six, Sofi has not yet been corrupted by those undercurrents in our society. She refers to her African-American friend ("BEST friend, Mom") as "black-skinned". I think that is profound. Black- skinned. Not "black", not "different". She recognizes the superficial nature of racial differences. It's only a difference in skin color. It's not a label, it's descriptive. It's not a devide between us, it's a curiosity. Like having red hair, or detached earlobes, or a hitchhiker's thumb, or any of the myriad of other genetic differences that don't cause war and hatred and oppression and division.

I pray that she is able to keep this innocent perspective as she grows. I pray that the taint of this country's history of racial division doesn't stain her precious childhood friendships. And I pray that her generation will continue to take our society further and further away from its shameful history of racism and suspision of those who are different.


Karina said...

Wow this was a powerful and wonderful post. I pray that your daughter and her generation can make the difference I think our generation has only just begun to try and make.

Also, it is a testament to how you're raising her that she sees things the way she does.

By the way, I wanted to let you know that there is definitely still tim to participate in Karina's Alphabet Soup...I'm keeping the letter A open until October 31st. ;-)

Herb of Grace said...

Thanks, Karina :)