Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo....

Monday night I came home to a message from Maya's Elementary School principal (Mrs. Hoban who is incredible and wonderful and non-principal-ish). It stated that she would like me to call her at my earliest convenience regarding something that happened to Maya at school that day. She made sure to add that Maya was safe and was not in trouble.

And, of course, it was too late for me to talk to her by the time I got the message.

I was worried.

Maya is the type of student who prides herself in never getting in trouble. She has been the teacher's pet in every class so far. It actually worries me. I would like to see a bit more spunk and a bit less people-pleasing.....

When Maya was in daycare I tended to get the call "Mrs. ****, your daughter was bitten by another child in the classroom today." She was never the one who did the biting.

When Maya came in I asked her, "So, what happened in school today?" That's all I said. I didn't say it accusingly. It was just a conversational question.

Maya sighed, her cheeks turned pink, she got a bit teary-eyed and plunked down on the couch with an audible groan.

Of course, because I was always the kid that GOT in trouble, I immediately thought "Oh great, what did she do?" But thank God I didn't say it out loud.

A "friend" (I use this term as loosely as it could possible be used) got mad at Maya at recess and told her, "I don't like brown people".

Let me just state this one more time....


The school dealt with it very well. Everyone was called in, it was discussed. Things are being put in place with teachers, playground duties and the administration.

The rest of the day, though, all the kids were asking her why she had to go to the office. This was horrible for Maya. She was so worried that the kids were thinking that she got in trouble for something. It embarrassed her.

I bet the girls that actually said it thought nothing of being in the office. She's been in trouble before. No skin off her nose.

So, in all of this drama, the one that was being protected ended up feeling much worse than the one that actually got in trouble. That is the part that really sucks. That is the part that makes me cry.

I am not naive enough that this prejudice comes as a huge surprise. But amazingly, I have had people that are just shocked when I tell them what happened. I'm not sure if they just wish that the world was without prejudice or that they really and truly believe that the world (and especially America) has gotten past their prejudice past.

I grew up in a family where the N word was used in certain situations without a second thought. It was never "meant" to be derogatory to a certain race of people.

You probably grew up with some of the same things.

A Brazil nut was not a Brazil nut.

You did not catch a tiger by the toe.

I bartended in a dead end bar in the middle of Montana where most jokes started out, "There was a Texan, a Montanan and a N...."

I never liked it. I even fought with a few people about it.

But the majority of the time I either halfway chuckled at the jokes, or just ignored them. I am not proud of either of those reactions.

When I had my girls I realized that I could no longer just ignore prejudice. Or excuse it because of someone's age, or how they were raised.

We are all adults. We are responsible for what comes out of our mouths.

Anytime you just ignore a stupid drunk saying the N word, you ignore the problem. You add to the pool of insults that hurt innocent, wide-eyed, big-hearted little 9 year old girls.

You hurt Maya. And that is not okay.


At 9:52 AM, Blogger anika said...

You're right Shari. And Maya is such a beautiful and wonderful little girl.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger said...

Wow. So very eloquent.

I couldn't have said it better.

At 2:25 PM, Blogger KOM said...

That was a great post. I can only hope that this "friend" was just being cruel, as some children are, not specifically racist.

I knew an asian kid when I was in kindergarten, and I had made a passing remark about his "flat face". This upset him, and if I remember correctly got me into trouble. But I certainly didn't mean it in any context outside of "four-eyes" or "buck-tooth" - it was simply a physical trait that was not shared by the majority of the kids in our class.

Children aren't color blind, nor should they be. We can just hope that as they mature, they understand that people with flat faces, glasses or dark skin are possibly different, but no less important than anyone else.

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Shari said...

You are completely right, but the intent, at this age, can be blamed on the parents....

At 6:03 PM, Blogger rennratt said...

I wish that you lived closer to us. Your daughter is the kind of child that I would love my daughter to be around. She is kind, thoughtful, tenderhearted. She is beautiful from the inside out. THAT is what matters the most. Thank you for being such an awesome mom. Maya's future is limitless because of you.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger Squishi said...

Well, if it makes you or her feel better, i TOTALLY envy Maya's hair. I would love to have hair that colour and that curly, knowing I could straighten it if i really wanted to.


So there. %:D

At 1:28 AM, Blogger Ant said...

Oh man - reading that just boils my blood.

Schools are tough, harsh places and the fact that Maya, who wouldn't hurt a fly, is exposed to that kind of thing is all wrong. And, like you say, though we're all supposed to grow up and out of these horrible prejudices, I think adults just learn to conceal them better than kids.

This is just a thought but - if you're worried about her being a bit tougher, have you tried sports or social activities that would maybe develop this?

My parents were totally worried about me having seven shades of shit knocked out of me at high school so sent me off to a martial arts club to learn to defend myself. And it worked - got in one fight and messed the guy up. Nobody bothered me again.

I've never been a parent though, so I'm guessing it might not be as simple as that...

At 6:13 AM, Blogger Christine said...

Aww...Maya is really beautiful from the inside out. It really is a shame...


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