Recently I had posted on my social media that I was taking a break from posting for a short while. This break is now over around 12 days earlier than it should be, and the reason for this is because my daughter directly experienced racism for the first time. Not at me and my partner, but directly at her and I need to discuss it.
We couldn’t cover the responsibilities we needed to as parents this week due to a break in childcare during the transition from Isla’s pre-school at nursery to pre-school at her new primary school, so one of our closest and most trusted friends is looking after her during the day for part of the week.
This friend took her to a nearby town on the bus and train (why do kids love public transport so much?!) with our friend’s sister and niece, and they spent the day having fun in the park, eating ice cream at questionable times, and heading for a pub lunch before coming back home.
Our friend, her sister, and her sister’s daughter are all white. Isla is the only one who is visibly different in colour, and yet so far there is no acknowledgement of their differences at all – they’re all having great fun.
I wasn’t personally there, but I received loads of messages in our group chat about a situation that was unfolding. Our daughter was receiving different and negative treatment from a random member of the public who was also at the pub, whilst our friend’s niece was receiving favourable and positive attention from the same woman.
My daughter is three years old. She’s been on this earth 39 months and 2 days, and she is already a victim without even knowing it.
Yes. I’ve touched on this in the past – there is a certain look, and certain expressions that is made by an individual you don’t know without any verbal exchange whatsoever. Any person of colour will tell you what this is, and anyone associated with people of colour can identify it too in a split second. In fact, our friend’s first message was to say that she’s just experienced something with Isla that I had discussed previously on my blog!
Also, for some reason racist individuals find it perfectly reasonable to express their opinions when it involves an establishment that serves food and drink. They just can’t help themselves. Maybe it’s because you aren’t passing by strangers and you’re forced to be around them for long periods of times. Who knows?!
Forgive me on the sketchy details as I wasn’t there, but this extended into a distinctive positive and negative reaction towards the two girls who were taken to the same pub, with the same individuals, without an exchange on exactly why this was the case.
There were only two differences. My daughter was eating chicken nuggets and the her friend was eating sausages, and the other difference was their skin colour. Unless this lady is offended by the sight of chicken nuggets then I know what I’m betting on. Especially with ‘the look’.
Again, something I’ve touched on before so I won’t repeat myself too much. In essence, my partner, our friend, and our friend’s sister were extremely angry. Initial thoughts are along the lines of ‘She doesn’t have the right to do this and she has to know’.
I tried to explain in a message that unfortunately I’ve learned that if you confront a racist person, all they will do is use it as an excuse to validate their incorrect claims. They will say ‘see, I told you brown people were like that’ and express it to all of their friends (and probably social media).
Staying silent in those situations isn’t ideal, and it isn’t nice. The problem is, that the only person that will walk away feeling even more victimised is the person who was already a victim. The racist person will simply carry on with their day without a care in the world.
With my work hat on, when we have conversations about requirements, they are similar to conversations about morals. The word that is often added to a sentence is ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ depending on the context of an action. Shouldn’t doesn’t mean it won’t, and it also doesn’t mean it mustn’t because enforcement of these situations (especially verbal or gestured ones) aren’t necessarily a crime that can be taken further in the right way. ‘Should’ simply means something ‘could’ be different.
The fact of the matter is that it isn’t different. This exists whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. It will always exist.
Having an argument in the pub won’t change this, but maybe writing a blog post like this will. I’d prefer for our closest ones to continue to enjoy their day with this being a ‘blip’ than to feel even worse.
She knows nothing about this, and because of the way our friends expertly handled the situation, she wouldn’t have known of the upset or anger that they felt either.
You may not agree that brushing it off is the right thing to do, but this will happen over and over again until the day she dies. I don’t like using these words but it’s true, and for those who were responsible for her in this particular setting I am truly grateful for them continuing to give her an amazing day before, during, and after the pub lunch.
There is a big caveat to this.
One day my daughter will notice, and it’ll probably be less than another 3 years before something happens and she asks me why someone behaves that way.
I have the unfortunate job of telling her that people won’t like her because of her skin and there is no getting away from it. It’s not a subject I can avoid. It’s a conversation my parents had with me in a varying form, and more than two decades later I’ll be doing exactly the same…
- People won’t like you, or our family because mummy is white, daddy is a mix of black and white, and so are you.
- Always get a receipt.
- Always carry your photo ID.
- Never wear tracksuit bottoms out of the house.
- Never wear a hooded top with the hood up out of the house.
- If an official ever stops you for a search when people with similar luggage or traits (but not colour) walk by, don’t ask why, it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
- You will be told you should like chicken, that you can’t swim, and that you run fast.
…and yet people will still argue that racism doesn’t exist, continue to ask me to validate my reasoning when I suggest it does, and make derogatory comments towards the Black Lives Matter movement because apparently it’s ‘political’ rather than the reality of what’s faced on a daily basis.
Welcome to the reality of 2020.