the white elephant in the room

dylan's been learning the names of some of our camp staffers, and one of her favorites is darius.

this morning on tv, a commercial came on, and dylan lit up.


except it wasn't darius. it was shaquille o'neal.

now, dylan has been known to confuse the names of white people, too, but there's no getting around the fact that there are not a lot of people of color living in our little town--asian, hispanic, black or otherwise.

i desire for dylan to grow up knowing people who look like her and those who don't.

which is not to say ligonier doesn't have it's own diversity. tonight at the gas station, we saw a man in a raggedy pick-up outfitted with two gun racks alongside a booted, suited polo player filling up her lexus suv.

sometimes small town life can feel a bit too small.

we've elected a black president, and that is a tremendous step forward for our country. but how do you raise children not to see people as Other when you don't live and work and worship alongside people of different ethnicities, and so many neighborhoods and communities in america are still racially monolithic?


Debbie said...

Such excellent questions. And we have struggled with much the same thing here.
I think we just tried to express these thoughts and concerns to our children as soon as they were old enough to begin to understand. You can't change the makeup of where you live but your kids can learn that you wish you could:)

Jenney said...

We are fortunate to live in a diverse area, but I know it can still be a struggle. Our church is 90% white, with some African American, Indian, and hispanic thrown in. It bothers me our church can't be more diverse, although on Wednesday nights we do have an outreach to inner city youth.
What is even harder for us is that our kids' godparents are a bi-racial couple...and because their godmother is African American, my in-laws don't like her. That is hard for my son.

Jenney said...

I guess not that our church "can't" be more diverse, that it ISN'T more diverse would be a better thing to say.

Penny said...

Interesting you should bring this up. I live in a very multi-cultural city and my kids have been exposed to many different cultures via daycare, kindy etc. But even tho' that is the case, I do remember that Tim called every Indian (as in from India) lady he saw by the name of his Indian care giver at daycare for a while. ;-)

Misty said...

we also live in an area that is pretty diverse, yet it's still so racially divided. you don't ever see blacks hanging out with hispanics or indians or asians. and the church i've been visiting is 90% white as well. it does sadden me in trying to raise my boys not to see Other. i'm glad for my dh's backgroud: he grew up in the 'hood (!) and most of his friends are not white... but that still presents seeing them as Other if you think in terms of white vs... kwim? i don't want my boys to think their Tio is any cooler or better b/cs he's mexican and vice versa.
anyway, good grappling questions... as my friend suggested to me, make sure you buy books, rent movies, etc that project positive images of other races (as opposed to buying into traditional sterotypes) and just gently introduce the idea that we are a diverse people.

Precision Quality Laser said...

Kids naturally see the contrast in skin color. I don't think that's a bad thing by itself. It's when they start attaching specific stereotypical behaviors to those colors that it becomes a problem.

My family is bi-racial. I am white and my husband is hispanic. Thus our precious children are half and half :) They don't see a difference between me and him because we are just "mom and dad." We are blessed that our church is racially diverse (Polynesian, Indian, Asian, Hispanic, African American, Nigerian, Hawaiian, etc.) so our children just see the different colors as beautiful attached to loving people that they adore.
I think if you don't see the differences, they won't either. My parents raised me and my sister that way. We lived in a very white neighborhood but I never saw the differences between me and a black girl because my parents taught me that we are the same just different colors because God made us that way. When you learn to see the value that God places on others, there is no room for racial stereotypes :)
We have had discussions with our boys about why someone is a different color and how that doesn't make any difference between us and them. I guess it helps when daddy is darker than mommy too :) lol
It's a tough lesson to teach in today's world. I commend you for being willing to take the challenge :)

Oh, I popped over to say that you can get Washing Soda in the laundry detergent section of the store. It's usually pretty close to the Fels Naptha soap. Sometimes you have to hunt a little.
Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

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