Here’s a quiz:
Please define the group about which this paragraph refers.
“I wish they would just keep to themselves. No one wants to see them in public. They’re not welcome here. Good people cannot allow that type of people to live in our neighborhoods, teach in our schools, or be around children.”
Of course, few people will admit out loud or in a comment to this blog that a group immediately came to mind when they read this paragraph, which is a conglomeration of things we’ve all heard said about various groups over the years. We’ve heard this kind of judgmental, exclusive, and unkind language since the beginning of civilization. Because this type of language has existed since the beginning of our human history makes it neither right nor contemporary with how we should treat others.
So, if a group did come to mind, let that be a message to your inner voice that you, along with all the rest of us, still have a little more work to do in becoming an inclusive, loving, and accepting… and perhaps, even celebrating… community of humankind.
Until today, I have not commented on the recently reported exclusion of ethnic children from the pool at The Valley Club in the gated country club, The Huntington, in Philadelphia, PA. After a great deal of soul searching, I have realized that I simply did not want to address an issue that is so personal and so societal. It’s time to open the gates of my heart on this subject.
The children, from Creative Steps day camp, many of whom are Black and Latino, were invited to leave the premises. It is alleged by the children that they were subjected to racial comments made by adults, parents of Caucasian children already at the club.
There is no reason whatsoever to question the veracity of what these children heard. There have been no outright denials by the club administration. There have been no comments from anyone saying it isn’t so.
That brings me to the pain I am feeling for these children. In the same year that the first African-American president took his oath of office, a charming little Black child had to hear a White person ask, “What is that little [Black child] doing here?”
I cannot imagine the shock that young gentleman and his peers must have felt upon hearing these outrageous words. I cannot imagine how that one woman, in all her ignorance and arrogance, has affected this young fellow in his self-esteem and his perception of the world around him.
Years ago, my now ex-wife and I moved into a neighborhood that was predominantly White. Although my children’s mother is Caucasian, I am Mexican, with dark brown skin and black hair. After a bit of time in the mother group in our neighborhood, she was asked to resign her membership. Although she was never given a clear answer as to why, she was told finally that our family didn’t fit in their group setting.
My wife and children were devastated at the time. This was in 1978.
Nothing, for us, was the same. I eventually moved after nearly twenty-eight years of residency in that home. I was a good neighbor and a loving friend, even to those who were part of the group who banned us from the club.
My family now consists of Latinos, Caucasians, Blacks, and Asians. We are a rainbow coalition all by ourselves.
Interestingly enough, the most challenging part of our family are the whitest of the lot. This is nothing more than an fascinating observation.
If one is so deluded to believe that small children of any color are a threat, then it’s possible she should be in treatment or on medication for her paranoia. If one is so ignorant of what amazing things all young people are capable of, then he should get out of everyone else’s way while we prepare these creators of tomorrow for their horrendously difficult task of correcting our blunders.
My children shouldn’t have had to hear their friends’ mothers shun us. The children at The Huntington shouldn’t have been emotionally battered by cruel ignoramuses. But, these events happened.
Since they did happen, we should make this a teaching moment by sharing with our children that ugliness like this is intolerable at every level. Whether it’s color, accent, size, wealth, education, or sexual orientation, hatred is all the same. It’s vile and it’s unacceptable. Period.