Do You Realize How Prevalent Racism Is?

Below is my cousin’s story of encountering racism as the mother of a biracial son. Overseas we experienced racism as people thought we were Muslim (because we dressed modestly and had lots of children). We couldn’t get help at government offices or even at the hospital. Hotels were “full.” We were spat at, and people avoided eye contact with us. Of course, we could change their attitude towards us in a second by letting them know we were American. I was glad for the experience because it gave me a glimpse of what our friends endured constantly as Roma, the discriminated-against Gypsy population, but we knew we could never really experience what they experience, living as unwanted by society, day in and day out.

The thing is, everyone is racist in their own way. No matter how much you are determined not to be. Our culture teaches it to us. It’s heartbreaking that our culture has created a negative image that young black boys in particular either accept or have to constantly fight to break out of. How sad that they are taught this poor image of themselves. Did you know some studies have shown blacks will score lower on a test that has them mark their race before they start? It reminds them of those low expectations society has placed on them.

Please read my cousin’s story below. I’m sure his teachers aren’t purposefully being racist. It’s an unconscious bias. It’s deep inside of us. It takes courage to spot and deal with. So I challenge you to dig for underlying racist thoughts in yourself and in your kids. Do your kids have any wrong ideas about blacks not being good or smart?

Below is by Erin Koewing

I never really understood how much racism there still is until I had a brown child. Sure, I knew there was racism and obviously that was awful, but I saw it as individual people, individual acts. I had brown and black friends and I heard them talk about how they were treated and I hurt for them. But I didn’t get it. I dated and married a black man in the south and I thought I knew then what racism was, how much it hurt. He was pulled over so much it was ludicrous. Driving a minivan. Waitresses refused to serve us. People said nasty stuff. I started to avoid making eye contact with people in public because I didn’t want to give them any opening to hurt me.

And then I had a brown child. A really noticeably brown child. People stared. All the time. It was exhausting. But I had the luxury of stepping away and being white. I remember being relieved to go to work, to go in a store without my husband or child because I was invisible. No one stared, no one made comments. I wasn’t an object of curiosity or disgust. I was just a person. And so ashamed that it was such a relief to just be a white middle class woman.

The first time anyone said anything racist directly to Wesley he was three. Three years old. And another kid in his preschool class told him every day, “I can’t play with you because you’re black. My dad says you’re black like Obama. My dad says our family don’t play with black kids.” My sweet boy told the teacher the kid needed help learning his colors….the boy kept calling him black and he was brown!

Do I worry about my kid’s interactions with the police? Absolutely. He told my mom that there’s a cop that drives up when they are playing air soft sometimes and sometimes follows him when when he rides his bike. That whenever he sees the cop he makes sure to smile really big and wave and say hi so the cop doesn’t think he’s bad. My ten year old is trying to make sure this cop doesn’t see him as a threat. I guarantee none of his friends are worried about that. I know in 36 years it’s never crossed my mind.

But, statistically, he’s very unlikely to be killed by a cop. That’s not what keeps me up at night. What I really worry about are the daily interactions that are soul destroying. That put him on high alert all the time. That make him feel like he is less than, that he has to fight just to be seen as equal. It’s my 8 year old crying in the middle of the night asking me why teachers think black kids are bad, why they give white kids more chances. Ashamed that he told a new teacher that he was Indian so she wouldn’t think he was black. It’s the lowered academic expectations. It’s the assumed negative intent for all behavior. It’s the perception of my almost never angry or rough kid as “behaving aggressively” when he does normal stuff that would be dismissed as playing around if he was white. Its people asking him over and over and over why he’s brown and I’m white. All he hears is “why are u different? You aren’t like us.” It’s kids at the pool making him the captain of the black team when choosing teams and telling him no one wants to be on the black team. No one wants to be like him. It’s telling him “your kind doesn’t belong in this neighborhood.” It’s not being invited to birthday parties because “my dad says we don’t let *** in our house.” It’s being on the defensive all the time to keep himself from being hurt worse. It’s my 10 year old telling me that I shouldn’t say he’s brown anymore, I should call him black because “that’s all that people see anyway.”

And I still don’t get it. I have no idea what it’s like to live in his skin with that kernel of fear all the time. But I know what it’s like to watch him navigate it. I know that my kid is scared. I know that it’s not right that he has to grow up this way. I know we have to stop pretending that childhood for me was the same as it is for him. He matters. Making change matters.

11 thoughts on “Do You Realize How Prevalent Racism Is?

  1. Heather Cecil July 11, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    I liked this story it’s so honest. The fact is its true but he can make a difference by not letting it get to him. Be the better person no matter if they see him as black white or poke dotted. He can change the world some day with his mom’s help and dad’s. They just need to not feel ashamed and be proud of who they are no matter what people say. Hold there heads high and look them in Thier eyes and show no fear and show respect and make that difference.

  2. Shirlann July 11, 2016 / 3:49 pm

    I grew up on the east coast I was born in California to a irish/austrian , and a chickaswaw/cherokee . Never really felt like I fit in darker skin ,dark hair and eyes. We moved back to California never had an issue. In 1994-my then husband a marine and I miced to Texas where we ran a Large ranch. We need gas for our generator The company I wirked for had an account with the gas station. I proceeded to get a soda then got to the counter , I was wearing overalls and had my hair beaided down both sides, I asked for $100 in gas to be put on our ranch account. The woman white about my age at that time 30ish looked at me and said we do not serve savages here. I was floored . People are mean and they are White people need to remember one IMPORTANT thing their ancestors came over on a boat too.

  3. Kaisma Penn-Titley July 11, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing you and your cousins’ stories.

    All the events occurring over the past year to the present, solidifies our long-held consideration of our decision to Homeschool our three children. Though we live in a diverse part of our state, we still feel it necessary to Homeschool in order protect the God-given identity and innocence of our children. This gives us the opportunity to have those tough conversations before the corrupted and wicked views of society formed through spiritual wickedness, attempts to damage their precious souls.

    I am a foreigner who moved to this country and has been myself Ill treated by white America and only white Americans, as soon as I set foot into this country. These are the same people that we see vacationing at our beaches in the Caribbean that we as a people go beyond measure to ensure have an enjoyable time and the relationship is not reciprocal.

    Nonetheless, God’s word instructs us to love those who hate us, and bless those who curse us. Tough, but commanded.

    mobile On Jul 11, 2016 10:59 AM, “Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool” wrote:

    > Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool posted: “Below is my cousin’s story of > encountering racism as the mother of a biracial son. Overseas we > experienced racism as people thought we were Muslim (because we dressed > modestly and had lots of children). We couldn’t get help at government > offices or even a” >

  4. Regina Ray July 11, 2016 / 4:07 pm

    I am white and I try very hard to not be racist. I try to think WWJD. Jesus loved everyone he was no respecter of color. He sees the heart and I pray for God to make me more like Jesus Christ. I don’t think it’s right for Blacks, Mexicans, Indians or any other race to be judged. But it’s also not right for them to judge all white people by the same standard cause we are not all alike. I don’t know what another person goes through but I choose to be one of those people that he or she can say that she was friendly and kind to me. We all go through many different things in life but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We shouldn’t be concerned with what people say, God is our ultimate judge. People are gonna talk about anyone, any race, that’s just what they do. We have to learn who we are in Christ Jesus and not let them bring us down.

    • girlcritic July 12, 2016 / 12:17 am

      I agree. It hurts me to be judged by other races automatically as racist just because I am Caucasian. And I have experienced the insecurity and stares as I have been the only”white”female in a group of African Americans and Hispanics. I live in a diverse county where Caucasians are the minority, and my children have had to adapt to being what is expected of a red head or a blonde. We are all different. I am not pretty, plump, not college educated and an just a bus driver. As my children listen to what is being played out today, they hear that they are mean, racist, haters who should be ashamed of who they are. God made all of us. We will never all be the same because He created is different. We can have respect for each other, even if it is one person at a time.

  5. Bridge Alarcon July 11, 2016 / 4:09 pm

    As a white mother of biracial children I see a few different sides. My very fair middle son that is told he is a liar about his ethnicity by his own classmates. That he will never be brown skinned even if is Dad is! Then to sit down with the principal who is a black man telling him he should not deny his white skin to those children it would be better for him to be white then mixed! He was 6 and 7 years still is treated this way often.

    Then I see my oldest being told he is a red skin by other children… as they confused him for being native american verses a mixed race. What saddens me more is that the children that treated my boys this way have been of various races!

    It doesn’t stop there and comes from every angle. I too have been singled out for having fair skin and been mocked for it. Living in El Paso over 10 years ago I was told often I needed to cover up my skin. That it was too white. I do see that this is only a small ounce of what my children & others feel. Forced to feel shame & fear for something completely out my control like my skin color or even at times my gender changes you. It shows me that as far as we think we have come on the race issues… we have not.

    I want so desperately for us to love one another. In my daily life I try show love to all people in hopes that this is the way to teach my children loving each other is the way. I also try to take the incidents we come across and open a dialog with them. Being a resident in the DFW area we have had many discussions on the things that have taken place recently. We have friends of all kinds and many in law enforcement & first response.

  6. getlizelleatabundance July 11, 2016 / 5:05 pm

    I have a mixed couple as friends and their children cry because they do not want to be black. They are beautiful. It hurts me and I am not even the childs mother. My heart just wants to break.

  7. Julie July 11, 2016 / 5:19 pm

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to post this! It solidifies my choice to use easy peasy. I’m so grateful for you and your “ministry” and I will be sharing this article with family members and friends.

  8. Robin July 11, 2016 / 5:54 pm

    When it comes down to it, there are 2 kinds of people, saved and unsaved. We all have heart issues that need to be delt with. We pray for the Lord to shine His light in those dark places on our hearts and reveal them to us so we can ask forgiveness or forgive others. Remembering Jesus said they hated me first.
    Praying for you:)

  9. Patricia Bryant July 11, 2016 / 6:04 pm

    I am a person of color, I am a human being, I am the daughter of the Fore Fathers who built America, I am Proud. Now Mom I want you to look for this book ( Great Negros Past and Present, ).

    ” To Be Young Gifted and Black.” Gifted and BLACK!!!!!!

    Encourage your Brown Young Men to read books about black inventors, doctors, surgeons and everything else that the Black Man has given to the world. Okay.

  10. Monique Dean July 12, 2016 / 2:53 am

    My heart breaks for your son. He shouldn’t have been told that he was brown.. My family is brown too, but we are called Black. Makes absolutely no sense because we aren’t the color of a black crayon, but that’s the way it is. He may be biracial, but obviously he looks like a Black child and to tell him something different puts him in a position to be ridiculed by others.. And to classify your family and friends as being brown and black isn’t right. The child needs to fall in love with both sides of who he is so he doesn’t end up hating who he is. I would suggest changing schools or living in a more integrated area. Homeschooling would be an excellent choice..

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