Are you happy with the level of racial integration in your child’s life?

I was reading this blog post. It’s a very controversial post. So I won’t go into depth with it because there is pending litigation and it’s also been taken offline.

My thing with this blog post (which is not why it was taken off) is the mention of a white mom admitting her son had never seen three people of colour in a car together (I can’t go check the post now) but I seem to remember it being three people who worked for them, they were in a car together and it sparked this conversation with her kid.

The post goes on to say that the son’s best friend is coloured — which is confusing because, how does the best friend arrive at places? Does he teleport, was he adopted by a white family or does he never get invited to things?

Just for balance. I asked my son if he had ever seen white people in a car together. He said yes and looked at me like “what the heck”. I asked if he had seen three black people, or three Indian people and he just looked at me and said “Mommy, Why are you asking me this?”

“Obviously, I’ve been to the mall I’ve been on the road. I’ve seen people in cars.”

So it made me realize how I’ve taken integration for granted, but it also made me wonder what’s happening in other families. Is it something we should be paying more attention to?

I was talking to a friend and I was saying that I don’t know if it’s  because I’m just lucky, lucky to live in a small town? Or is it because I’m not wealthy enough or poor enough to only be surrounded by people who look like me. (think about it, it makes sense)

Aidan knows people of different races, just nje, nothing special about it. Like his favorite place to have play dates? It happens to be a white family but he waits for a friend at the gate everyday who happens to be black.

His friends at school are different races and I guess it’s always been the norm for us. I don’t even like hosting people at my house (I always feel so awks) but if I did a census of races that have visited, it would be pretty well rounded. And now I wonder if I’ve taken it for granted. Is there really this whole world out there (here in South Africa) that is still not integrated?

I’m not here to be like…. Oooh I’m so worldly and integrated, go me, kiss my multicultural feet. I’m actually awkwardly embarrassed that I haven’t taken other people’s lived experiences into account.

It actually hit me (now at 35 yet still niave) that there are children of colour who have never seen white people outside of their TVs and white children who have never seen people of colour outside of the role of nanny or caretaker. (I’m not saying all…im saying there are some, so no need to defend yourself)

It is such a strange thing that I’m trying to grapple with and I’d love to get your comments. Because I’m not saying everybody go adopt a token, you know. Not saying look at your birthday list and be like, oh we better get someone in there that matches the color quota, that’s not what I’m saying.

But what I’m saying is, well actually what I’m asking is: Is this a thing? Are we really still this behind as a culture as a country? Have I really been this ignorant and unaware.

There’s a lot of work to be done as a country and I’m aware of this.

But I’m also optimistic, I’m optimistic because when I asked my son if he has friends of different races, he was like “what’s races again? People who look different? yeah I guess” .

He is lucky, but some interviewing of friends and family made me realise that this is by no means the norm. A game of tag on the playground is often as far as unity goes. I just wonder, if we are doing our kids a disservice by not making it the norm.

It’s been a very stressful couple of weeks and I’ve got a million thoughts in my head. But the main one right now is we need to do better.

We need to get out of our own comfort zones for our kids sake, It’s as easy as that. Because kids are adaptable, we on the other hand (me included) we are in our heads and there’s comfort in similarity. So if you get invited to a birthday party (post covid) and you suspect you are going to be “odd one out” swallow your own feelings and go for your child’s sake… Because they learn by what we do not what we say.

Please comment below. Because I’d like to get some feedback and alternative opinions.

3 thoughts on “Are you happy with the level of racial integration in your child’s life?

  1. Kim van Vuuren says:

    A very thought provoking read. In our tiny (extremely Afrikaans) Jeffreys Bay, our school environment is pretty diverse, but I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say that my kids technically have no friends of other colours that come for play dates (it’s a reality, now that I’ve thought about it, that needs changing). I don’t think it’s because my kid knows the difference, but definitely because I do (which I’m working on).
    I think the extreme you mentioned at the beginning of your post is perhaps more an economic one, cause as far as I can tell, the wealthy only really seem to hang with folk of a similar persuasion.
    My friends who are POC don’t have kids the same ages as mine, but that’s no excuse, cause if I want my kids to grow up to be kind and accepting humans, I’ll have to be more intentional with their interactions, till it becomes something natural.
    (Also, you are welcome to point out if I’m missing the mark here.)

  2. Lizanne says:

    Wow such a valid post, my friend. I don’t think my kids see enough POC in roles other than cashiers, domestics helpers and sadly the guys standing by the road and car guards. I think what Kim said is true, where you live and economic circumstances make a difference.
    Part of our issue is since we homeschool it’s not like we see other people every day. BUT i need to make more of an effort once we are allowed to visit to have my friends who are POC and have kids over. To be fair when we were allowed to visit and we had play dates it was very much a mixed bag. So they are pretty used to it, I don’t think they think that POC are only found as cleaners etc, but as someone who grew up in a small town in Swaziland where I was like one of 10 white kids in my grade, I think they could do with more integration for sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *