family, politics

Ice Cream and The N Word


It wasn’t until I became the mother of brown children that I truly saw the racism in this world. I mean, yeah, I’m against racism, I don’t tolerate racial jokes at social events, I support diversity, I support #BlackLivesMatter.  But did I ever really know racism? Did I feel it on a personal level? As a white woman, probably not.

My son was berated as an “N-word” at camp this week. Some of the kids have been asking him if he is Mexican and if he is here “legally.” Carl is much darker than I am so sometimes kids ask “how he came out like that.” This kind of ignorance permeates our society today. I have no problem gently educating people that our nation is made up of all kind of different people. Some children are born into families and some are adopted. Not all Mexicans are “illegals” and not all Hispanics are Mexican. Yada yada yada. At this point I realize my lip service is doing nothing whatsoever.

Carl was thrown up against a metal fence and choked at camp on Tuesday. His head was pushed back over the back of a metal fence by a 12-year-old boy named T. And this boy screamed at Carl for being a “N–!” Why? As it turns out Carl had bested him earlier during a sporting event. The camp staff intervened immediately and the rest of the day was spent trying to contain T (who turned on them) while waiting for his mother to pick him up.

I honestly expected the boy’s mother to address the actions of her son. I expected that she would reprimand the boy, educate him, give him consequences and ultiuhave him apologize for his actions. I thought this because I am naive. I am white. This has been my experience so far and in my naivety I expected the same.

Instead, the woman yelled at the camp counselors. According to the other campers she later came back and screamed at the staff some more. This baffles me. There is video of the incident. Clearly her son did something wrong.

Only, according to her this action was justified. Because my little boy is brown. She proudly wears neo-nazi white supremacist emblems on her jacket. She decided not to put her children in Lacrosse last season because my Hispanic husband was the coach. So I guess a bit of strangulation means nothing to her, so long as the victim is a child of color.

I went to the police in town. Of course I did. The state trooper was busy heading out for a narcotics raid. He gave me the email of our local officer instead. Then he gave my son a certificate for free ice cream. So I dutifully sent an email describing the incident, whom to speak with at the program (staff witnesses) etc. I simply asked that the T be spoken to about hate crimes and their repercussions. I thought education was the way to go before this boy became a hate-filled teenager. It seemed reasonable to me. That was on Tuesday. On Thursday I re-sent the email “just in case.”

I was naive again. Almost 2 weeks ago I left my cell phone in a cab. The driver attempted to steal it by stating everything in the cab belonged to him. An officer was at my house in 10 minutes and went to retrieve the phone for me. I baked him a pie, I was so happy he went out of his way for me.

Today is Sunday. It is the Sunday following horrible atrocities committed in Charlottesville VA, in the name of white supremacy.  Have I heard anything from the police about the incident with my son? What do you think?

But I suppose we should be happy with his ice cream.

 

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

 

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33 thoughts on “Ice Cream and The N Word

  1. C says:

    I am sorry that this happened. It’s barbaric and is never justifiable. If it were me I would ask that charges fir assault be brought against this boy. Has Carl voiced an opinion about any of this? What would his desired outcome be? Again I am not a parent so I can understand how you feel but I can’t 100% get it. I do know what it’s line to be a victim and get no meaningful justice. After all that Carl has been through I can Imagine he has an opinion or two.

    Liked by 1 person

      • C says:

        Take the ice cream cupon and make the other kid get ice cream and chat. That woukd probably makenthe mom nuts. Maybe the camp could do some type of mediation. It may help Carl sort thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That would be a good idea. The other child had to leave camp. No way would he go anywhere with my family. You have such great ideas! You’d make such a great counselor (hint, hint!)

        Like

      • skinnyhobbit says:

        Okay it could just be my bias out of past experiences of being bullied as a PoC in an Asian country: are you so sure making Carl talk to his bully would be a good idea??? :/ Please be aware of the power dynamics, of the victim having to “be friends with” their bully. Add in racism: brown people having to “be nice” to their white bully? :/ I hope I’m vastly vastly misunderstanding and that you’re going to be there to support him and not just leave him to sort things out!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pauline Wells says:

    You’ve got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You’ve got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It’s got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught

    South Pacific – Youve Got To Be Carefully Taught Lyrics

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am the white mom of 2 beautiful African American babies that God gave me 2 years ago. I also was shocked at the amount of racist comments and dirty looks I would receive when out in public. It is sad that in our society we are still so separated. I just hug my babies and say mommy loves you when we are faced with the hate.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s horrible for Carl. I hope he’s okay. When you are connected to someone who is a victim of racism it is an eye opener. I have it all the time as my family is multi racial and multi religion. I think its a tricky one to deal with as his mother is fervently racist. If they are at school together perhaps you can ask the school to do some anti-racism work for the whole class. The mother will probably object. The most effective way we dealt with racism amongst a youth group was hiring a stunningly good Zimbabwean youth worker as a member of staff. Racist comments stopped immediately and everyone grew to love him. But it does require people who are skilled. It took 2 years to stop racism in another youth club, one of my proudest achievements. Carl may experience this his whole life, so it may be worth figuring out how he wants to handle it. A Somali friend of mine is very good, he told me a story of meeting someone racist who ended up apologising and shaking his hand at the end. But his life experience at the hands of racists still has been horrible at times. Much love to Carl.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think once you learn about someone who is “other” it chips away at stereotypes. The district had a diversity program and an anti-bullying one. The other boy is in n older grade. They are both in middle school (gulp! I’m getting old!) so I was going to mention it to administration. My comfort is that my husband is there to guide Carl through. Luke knows first hand what this is like.

      Like

  5. I’m so angry about this. I am mad as hell. Coming for kids is a whole other level that triggers my DGAF “it’s about to be on” behavior. I’m sorry for your family and your son. These experiences are traumatic and leave a serious stain; I shared my own story this weekend. You did the right thing; just remember this is about the long game–keeping him safe and knowing safety with you.

    Now, you know if you ever feel the need to um respond, ahem, more confrontationally, call me. 👍🏾💯

    Like

    • Your story was amazing. It was inspiring for me and it gave me my own “it’s on” moments! I followed the advice on some of your re-tweets and spoke up at the police station. I have to say that it worked. But honestly? I’m pretty sure angry white mom was treated better than say angry Hispanic mom. It’s just a theory I have…

      Like

      • I’m sure. One of the many reasons I insist that the folks at Hope’s school call me Dr. ABM: Constant reminder that I’m on their a$$es to make sure she gets what she needs. Obnoxious but effective. You are great, and I’m glad you are speaking up and sharing your story. People need to understand the very real experiences your family is having. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Len says:

    I am very sorry to hear this. I hope your son will come out stronger for it.

    These stories are just so infuriating. There’s so many people that go around “I’m not a racist, but…” who always have an excuse for something like this. Studies have shown that children growing up in a diverse environment hold far fewer racist ideas. Unless governments act to ensure from an early age children are taught to respect others and learn about other races and cultures, it will never improve.

    Like

  7. ashley says:

    So sad. I can’t speak to racism; I am white in a majority white province. I’ve never experienced what Carl went through. but my heart hurts.

    People truly *do not* see their own behaviour sometimes. I will be wearing a hidden camera later this month to capture the attitudes of ableism as well as physical barriers. Those tapes will be interesting viewiing

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t start off with my first reaction because I doubt you’d like profanity laden comments lacing your post.

    I am furious for you. FURIOUS. I read this post and knew where it was headed and I’M STILL FURIOUS. That your boy had to experience this violence (even though I’m sure it wasn’t his first brush with hate and ignorance), that the camp is limited when it comes to protecting him, that this woman prances around lecturing staff that violence is in the right. Does that go for someone popping her in the nose? Is it still okay if the person throwing the punch is brown, or only if they’re white?

    And the police. A certificate for free ice cream?! Are you freaking KIDDING me?!? The state trooper did more than just drop the ball on that one, and the fact that your local police is doing nothing to show they’re behind you on this is nuts. Do they not get the connection between youth violence and the riots we’re seeing??

    Sorry for preaching to the choir, but I worry for my brown boy, too. Know that we’re on your side.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love this! Thank you for all of your non-profanity laced indignation on behalf of my boy! I am pretty sure the other mom threatened to pop the camp director and tried to start a physical altercation.

      In the end, I did get ahold of the police lieutenant. We are a resident trooper town so it gets confusing. He did help and he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t heard from my 2 emails and one visit. It’s OK. I went down and squeaked my squeakiest wheel!

      Like

  9. Oh, dear LORD! You were very level headed, and I’m not sure I could have handled it as well as you did. One does NOT lay hands on my children. Yes, we have responded immediately and without delay to the few racist comments my kids have experienced…. but laying hands on them?!? That would have been an assault charge right there.

    Like

  10. This is terrible, I’m sorry this happened to your boy and you. The women with neo-nazi white supremacist emblems on her clothes – it feels like the end of civilisation at the moment. I’m glad you’ve finally got a response and I hope it was satisfactory. I feel despair just hearing about these things so to have it happen directly to one of your family: I cannot imagine the emotions. I had a mixed-race best friend in college who my bigoted father used to call the n-word and other things like ‘jungle bunny’ behind her back; she was 17 and absolutely, of course, zero threat of any kind to his comfortable existence. I’m grateful that through his disgusting invective he instilled in me a hatred of this kind of behaviour for life.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: what we need vs. what we’re expected to settle for | Riddle from the Middle

  12. I popped in from Laura’s place. I am sorry for what your son experienced, and the various ways the sadness of the incident has been compounded. The saddest part of the story is that there are still parents teaching children to hate. To hate for any reason, is wrong. To hate simply because of heritage or color is beyond wrong. It’s beyond stupid. It just shouldn’t be, not in 1917, let alone 2017.

    I hope there is some small comfort in the responses to this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am sorry for your pain. I don’t understand it, but I’ve seen it here. I live in Pennsylvania Dutch country, it seems to be prime territory for young neo-Nazis. It is an eye opener. It is not even hidden, it is out in the open. Kids with swastika tattoos, white supremacist slogans, Confederate license plates. Parents of German heritage that felt Hitler had some good ideas. It is exhausting to fight the attitude, but hard to give up the challenge.

    Keep up the fight, wishing you and your family well. Van

    Liked by 1 person

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