Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mother's milk

This post is written for the Erase Racism Carnival being hosted this month at Black Looks and at Erase Racism Carnival.

I heard about a young man who did something remarkable many years ago. One day, a little girl called him the n-word. He was obviously quite upset and asked the girl to take him to her mother. The girl’s mother when faced with this incident was extremely embarrassed and apologised, saying that she would talk to her child about name calling – especially the use of that racist word. This young man however refused to accept the mother’s apology, saying that the problem was not with the girl but with her parents, who must have taught her the n-word, either directly or indirectly. That was a brave and wise young man, and I would have loved to see the mother’s reaction to this down to earth words.

I too believe that a racist is not made but bred and nurtured in the home. Just as children learn values, life and beliefs from their parents, so too will a racist learn to hate someone because of their skin colour. It might not be direct name calling or hatred, it can be implied; for instant the constant moaning and complaining about “those people”, and eventually, a beautiful trusting soul is turned into a racist by the very people who should teach him/her to love.

In the council estate where I live, most the world races are represented by the tenants. Africans, Asians and Europeans share the same playgrounds, shops, and schools. Recently, a group of boys aged between four and six, who represent a majority of the races in the estate have been riding their bikes every evening – they have races, trade bikes, do stunts and generally play like all boys do. I am not sure these children can see any racial difference - they are just boys playing – the most exciting thing that happens to them is when someone has a new thingy for their bike, or when someone falls off the bike and there is blood everywhere.

How sad to reflect that in a few years time, these boys will not play together any more because they will have learnt that what separates them is not flashier bikes, or trendier outfits, but race – the difference in their skin colour.

It is all very well for governments to make laws about racism and making laws on equality or diversity, but until the conviction comes from deep within people’s hearts, no law will make the slightest difference. Like Mshairi says, you cannot legislate what is in people’s hearts. You can only teach children and pray that God will bring the change in people's hearts.


Anonymous mshairi said...

Your post makes a good point, Uaridi (it makes several good points!) however I like what you said - people are not born racists rather racism is nurtured. Not only in the home though but also in school and other places.

9/17/2006 03:53:00 pm  
Blogger sokari said...

This is so interesting Uaridi as it happened to my son. When he started going to school he made friends with the next door neighbours son also 5. They stayed almost inseparable throughout their primary school years even though they went to different schools. by the time they reached 12 they had slowly began to drift apart. By 14 or so they had stopped talking altogether. I asked my son what happened between him and D but he would never say until recently. He said it wasnt really D but the father whose attitude changed towards my son as he grew older and bigger. Comments were made that he felt were unacceptble even at that young age and discouraging his son from mixing with mine. I asked why he never told me and he just looked at me and said "Mum" like he knew I would have been round there & well Uaridi you can imagine the rest:)

9/17/2006 04:43:00 pm  
Anonymous kenyananalyst said...

Am glad u realize and accept that we make choices to become racist and such other evils. Accepting human responsibility is key to resolving such issues, as indeed so much else. Divine sovereignity is also in the mix, and that's where salvation becomes part of the story.

9/17/2006 05:31:00 pm  
Blogger brownfemipower said...

wow Sokari, I never ever would have imagined you to EVER have a kid that old!!!! I've always imagined you to be more about 23-26 at the very OLDEST!!!! :-)

this is a very nice post, and brings up the important job of parenting--because you really have to start talking about race from the moment that kids are old enough to recognize differences. you can't just assume that because you are not racist, your kids will not be...they have to have the skills to recognize and name and fight racism, and those skills, unfortunatly, are not taught by any major structure that kids interact with, like school or the playground or anything. My girl, we've had to have MANY conversations already, and she's only six...but she goes to a school where there is a big rift lower class poc who are going to university and upper class white kids whose parents teach at the university. so there were quite a few incidences where white kids (who were her friends) would play with kids of color because "princesses aren't brown' or whatever. And that goes back to how incidious racism is--it's hardly ever as blatent as the N word anymore--it's "princesses aren't brown," you know?

9/17/2006 05:38:00 pm  
Blogger brownfemipower said...

oh, ps, i found your site from the african women blogs that sokari introduced to me!! :-)
(in case you're wondering how this random blogger showed up!)

9/17/2006 05:39:00 pm  
Blogger alexcia said...

@ Uaridi and Sokari,
We mustn't put all the blame on parents, children (and young adults) too can be very nasty.Just ask Freud!

Why do is say this?
I did not grow up with racism, but with tribalism and whats the -ism for the divide between rich and poor again?
This kind of name calling among hitherto childhood friends was an everyday occurrence.
who can remember where they first heard a tribal word and to whom they repeated it?

I doubt it was from an adult.

9/17/2006 08:22:00 pm  
Blogger Stephen Bess said...

This is so true. I wish it would just go away, but...??

I'll just continue to pray

9/18/2006 03:15:00 pm  
Blogger gishungwa said...

i think its primitive to think others infrerior just because they are diferent, worse if you think that they are better than you.
With stephen saying prayers.

9/19/2006 01:29:00 pm  
Blogger Paddy said...

Back here, we battle tribalism with kikuyus,luos and kalenjins thinking they are the superior tribes! And yes, parents breed tribal concepts in their kids by the remarks they make in passing.

9/20/2006 06:58:00 am  
Blogger sokari said...

Uaridi - your post is up with the Erase Racism Carnival at:

Erase Racism Carnival

9/20/2006 07:41:00 am  
Blogger POTASH said...

Mhhh... race always the elephant in the room and we all try to ignore it because we 'have friends of another colour.'

I agree with you Uaridi, racism is in the social conditioning and not in our genetic make up.

9/20/2006 11:23:00 am  
Blogger Brother Jero (BJ) said...

Great Post. It is indeed sad to see how thins turn up when the kids grow older.. drives me to think that we really are animals, even little animals tottaly unaware of the dangers will play with other dangerous animals and nothing will happen to them, upon growing up they stick to their own..

It's a jungle out there...

9/20/2006 02:46:00 pm  
Blogger Klara said...

Just Like alexcia I too didn't grow up in racism bt with all these tribalism, nepotism sorrounding us, I have come to understand how such acts can cause uman suffering.Bt it's encouraging when people like you came forward and boldly speak of the vice...

9/25/2006 03:02:00 pm  
Blogger Stwap said...

Racism Uaridi continues to baffle me, what makes someone think he's different from anotha person just bcoz he's of adifferent race. For heaven's sake we are all human beings!
Thanks 4 welcoming me to the blogger world even though I have been around for a while.....

9/29/2006 03:06:00 pm  
Blogger Stephen Bess said...

Where's Ausi, Uaridi?

10/03/2006 04:59:00 pm  
Blogger Princess said...

Martin Luther King, Jr said it best when he said that he had a dream that his children would grow up in a world where they wouldn't be judged by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character. I agree that parents play a role in the views that their children hold.

10/03/2006 09:45:00 pm  
Blogger iamnasra said...

Loved your view forgive me for being ubscent over here

10/07/2006 10:27:00 pm  

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