As a person who has been in an inter-racial relationship for years, imagine my shock when I picked up Skye from Camp Carnival on our cruise and the director told me some of the children thought she was racist. Apparently, Skye was playing with one little girl and other children approached them and wanted to play too. Skye told the children she didn't want to play with them because they were brown.
Now, I don't dispute it was a racist statement. I was shocked that she said that at all. When I spoke to Skye about it, she told me that she didn't want to play with them because she just wanted to play with one friend. So, using very flawed judgement (after all, she is only four years old), she decided that she would tell them she didn't want to play with them because they were brown.
When I explained that it was wrong to use the way someone looked as a reason for not liking them or wanting to spend time with them, she was clearly upset that she had upset them. I broke it down by explaining that her Mommy and her Grandad and Granny and her Uncle are all "brown." I asked her if she loved them, and she said, "Yes, Mama. I didn't want to play with the other kids because I wanted to play with just one friend."
As uncomfortable as that teaching moment was, it allowed me to explain to Skye how the important thing to care about was how someone behaved and not how someone looks. It was a teaching moment for the director of the camp, too. Having met Donna and me, she knew that Skye had two moms and one of them was "brown." So, the director was able to assure the offended children that Skye didn't mean to sound racist, she was only having a difficult time explaining she didn't want to play with other children.
For me, that incident shows how racism still scars this country and the world. Although race relations in this country have come a long way, we are all still suffering from the scars that racism inflicted on our collective consciousness. Furthermore, my little girl demonstrated that sometimes the intent of someone's words is not always evident on the surface. Emotional issues like race and bigotry cloud our judgement and create situations where it is very hard to have thoughtful, discerning communication.
Race still casts a shadow in my own daily life. Donna identifies as Black, but most people assume she's Hispanic. As a matter of fact, my brothers are convinced she's not "really" Black. Given her lesbianism, Donna is a poster child for diversity in many ways, her ethnic makeup not withstanding. But my Caucasian brothers who have limited experience with people of other races, don't have a lot of facts upon which to base their conclusions. Again, their assumptions are a reflection of the assumptions around race that society makes.
I guess the bottom line is although we have come a long way in our race relations, we have not yet gotten completely to where we should be as a society. I continue to believe that we need to teach by example and show the world that there are more folks who do understand that it's the content of one's character and not the color of one's skin that matters. Donna and I feel that way every day in our own family. So, on behalf of this inter-racial lesbian couple, I know we will continue to do our part to overcome racism and elevate character.
- Stacy Graffam
- I'm a lesbian mom in an inter-racial relationship, living in Bergen County, NJ. My wife and I are raising two beautiful children, an eleven year-old son and a six year-old daughter. I'll be sharing our adventures in faith and parenting on a regular basis. My entries are also published in Gay Parent Magazine (www.gayparentmag.com).