Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What's Right and Wrong

I think most people who read my blog know that Steve, the girls, and I live in North Minneapolis. Also, if you know North Minneapolis, you know that we are the minority as far as race is concerned. When we first moved here and I spent a lot of time at home with the girls, sometimes my news for Steve at the end of the day would be, "Guess what? I saw a white person walking down the street today!" I am totally not kidding about this.

One of the exciting parts about moving here for me was the fact that we would be surrounded by people of different color and ethnicity. Steve and I talked about the fact that our girls would grow up thinking so differently about people who didn't look the same as them. Well, actually I should say they will grown up not thinking differently about people who don't have the same color skin or the same type of hair.

Steve and I both grew up in rural America where people of different ethnicities were not common. I remember knowing two people who were not white like me. Two. And I didn't meet them until I was 12 or 13 years old. Our hope for our girls is that they will see all people as just that, people. Nothing more, nothing less.

So today I took the girls to eat dinner at the deli at Byerly's in the hour I had between work and Steve's softball game. We got our "chicken and rice" as the girls call Asian food, and took a seat.

Tryn picked our seat and right after we sat down she turned around to look at the people sitting behind her. It wasn't just a *glance to see whose there*. It was more like *stare, stare, stare, not look away, stare some more*.

I looked at what had caught her attention and it was a Native American man who was facing her, talking to a woman. I told Tryn to turn around and that it wasn't nice to stare, all the while thinking, "She is staring at a Native American? She doesn't stare at African Americans, Asians, or Mexicans, but she's staring at a Native America?! What in the world?!"

But she wouldn't stop turning around to look at him.

Finally, I was getting a little frustrated and I said, "Tryn, please stop turning around and staring at people. It's rude to stare, which means it's not a nice thing to do."

And she turned and looked at me and said, "But Mom, he's wearing a necklace. HE's (as in men in general) aren't supposed to wear necklaces, are they?"

"Well, yes Tryn. Boys can wear necklaces if they want to."

"But Daddy doesn't wear necklaces, does he?"

"Nope, Daddy doesn't. But he could if he wanted to."

"But he's not supposed to, necklaces are for girls."

I love that although Tryn has never been around a Native American before, she didn't care that he had different color skin than us or that he spoke differently than us. No, the weird part of her day is that for the first time she saw a boy wearing a necklace.


Anonymous said...


Is this progress?

It's funny to think that as hard as we try, it's part of our nature to group up with people like us, and to judge people not like those in our own "group".

Oh boy.


lhassler said...

We live in the inner city, too. The only time my children have been afraid of anyone...was a white Aussie friend who had a HUGE full beard that freaked them out. Guess they won't be much into Santa. Hah.

jessica woudsma said...

You and Steve are rad parents. I love it :)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to have a race conversation with you, Heidi, as we come from such different perspectives. I've grown up a bi-racial city girl, okay suburbs really, but with a very different look at who I am as well as who my friends are in terms of skin color. Sounds like a great topic over coffee sometime. :) I love your perspective of being a mom in this city.

Anonymous said...

What a cool way to raise your kids. I ended up marrying a Native American and it wasn't until a year ago that I stopped and realized I was in a bi-racial marriage and that my kids are bi-racial, LOL! - Fauntel

Paula Beard said...

Great story Heidi! You and Steve are such great parents! I love reading you blog, always entertaining.

On another note, your top of the world pictures are very beautiful!