Looking Through the Expat Window, Again

by farrah on June 20, 2015 · 2 comments

This week I saw a meme on Facebook that had to do with how racism is learned by our children. It was simple enough, and old- I had seen it before but for some reason it didn’t really strike me as so painfully obvious as it did this time around. Maybe that’s because my kids are at an age where they’re asking questions. All the questions.

Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list. – Dennis Leary

In the back of my mind I have always known this to be true- but until parenthood came along it didn’t register. And maybe the fact that we live away from where we’re from and the people we know and the safety and security of all that is predictable and familiar- that I’ve been given to take a step back and look at my little expat kids and feel this is true.

My kids do not hate what they do not know. They ask questions and they want me to tell them what to think. For now anyway, that’s how this game goes. So if I say to them that we, or I, do not like a person or a type of person- that becomes their thoughts too. They do it with movies, books, people. “Why do those people have brown faces Mom?” — well here’s my chance to explain.

What’s hardest is going to be the day when I have to explain why some people hate other people who they’ve never even met. Hate them so much that they want to hurt these people. Have to try to explain why they’re so angry, hurt or offended. In my simple mind right now the best I can come up with is to say “Their mama didn’t love them enough.” or some such non-answer. Because I don’t have an answer as to why people hate to the point of shooting up a church and killing people, trying to see reason in a world that makes no sense.

I’m grateful for the opportunity that I have had to travel to a place like Morocco. I’ve come home and had not only trinkets and photos to show my kids, but I also had a story about how kind people were to me after I got hurt. People I didn’t really know or understand– but felt safe with nonetheless. I knew that I was being cared for, had people worry about me, and real, genuine concern. Look friends, when you’re laying at the bottom of two flights on stairs on your back, wondering if you’re alive and if anything vital is broken- the race of who is helping you isn’t your top concern. People are people and that’s what I am so afraid that is being forgotten back home. What’s happening is a human issue- it transcends race, religion, politics, gender. Kids are learning. They are listening.

My point in that what’s happening in the US is bigger than guns- is that there is an inherent issue with the hatred, racism, me vs. you. And where is the learned? Hm? Where does this basic fear of the other come from? Well…. as Dennis Leary so eloquently puts it…

Being over the pond- away from the god awful media that has got to be rotting the brains of America- I feel like I have a chance to watch my children interact with others and decide for themselves what kind of person they’re dealing with. Brown faces or white faces it doesn’t matter. People from Turkey. People from Germany, Netherlands, Bulgaria or Morocco. Someone doesn’t have to look exactly like me to have my respect or attention. They see this, they learn this. From me and from you.

The race problem in the US isn’t going away, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. And it’s bigger than guns. Doesn’t it embarrass you that people point their fingers at politicians, groups, anything but themselves? What are you doing to teach your kids that there should be a world without racism? I’m more grateful now than ever that I am not there (nor my children)- hearing the hatred and empty words. Watching the endless loop of news bites that do nothing but hurt, not help.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julia June 20, 2015 at 10:59 am

Over the years as a parent I’ve stopped watching the news the way I did in my pre-kid days. There is just too much awful out there and I worry so much about what kind of world my son will grow up in. After Newtown when there was no change I was heart broken, can’t we fix some broken system. And now with the violence and hatred that just seems to be getting worse I’m even more heart broken. I raise my son to be kind, to treat every one fairly, to not judge based on differences. But I don’t know how we can combat people who are raising their children to hate.

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2 CK June 24, 2015 at 1:31 am

It’s a global issue! The U.S. media is just better at sensationalizing the headlines. Best to avoid some EU football games! 😉

http://europe.newsweek.com/new-report-exposes-huge-rise-racist-crime-europe-326929

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