Monday, April 27, 2015

Overcoming Prejudice

Yesterday, the family and I drove to Calloway Gardens for my best-friend's-birthday-kayaking-party. Try saying that three times. It was a lovely afternoon with perfect weather and some really cool people. Unfortunately, it was marred by a single 2 minute event.

As our nicely dressed, educated, well mannered party of 13 was waking to the dock, we passed an elderly, rich, white couple sitting in their boat on the dock. As we got closer, our very mixed bunch (and I mean that literally) obviously irritated the grumpy old man, who stood to make sure we weren't going to steal anything get a better glimpse of us. As five year-old Blinky, approached the boat dock thinking that was our final destination and tried to open the gate, grumpy old man shooed her away and began an unintelligible tirade, mostly for the benefit of his wife. Then, to make matters worse, he called his dog who he must have let out earlier to get in quickly so he can be safe. (Until he did this, none of us even realized that there was a dog.) Did this man really think we were going to harm it? Was the very existence of our group that much of a threat to him? Surreal.

To their credit, everyone in our party ignored him and moved on, but the scene kept replaying in the back of my mind. If we were an all white party, and Blinky approached the boat dock, would his reaction have been different. Is he really just a grumpy old man, or was his tirade racially motivated as our very mixed party was an affront to his blue blood status? As we were in our kayaks enjoying the beautiful scenery around us, I dared to glance over and there he was still sitting in his boat anchored to the dock. Watching us.

Since moving to the South, it is rare that I run into people like this, but it has happened. At seven and five, the DH and I have began introducing scenarios to the kids as we prepare them for the cruel world they will eventually enter. I always sometimes resent that I have to do this for the benefit of my bi-racial children, while my cohorts don't. That they will never have to worry about always being on their P's and Q's because not to could lead to an unfortunate outcome. It is a very sad reality.

Still, I am trying to apply the principal of not letting one bad thing ruin a great experience. Even more importantly, this is something I want my children to learn. Yes, there are idiots in the world who will do stupid things, but that's their issue, not ours. One mantra we've adopted is that there will always be someone who hates you, but there are far more people who love you. And I will continue to pray for God to place a hedge of protection over my family as we travel and explore together. What else can I do?

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