My Four Year Olds Experience with Racism

On Saturday night I took my 4 year old daughter to swim at our neighborhood pool. As we were walking towards the place where we put our towels she befriended two other girls who looked her age. Their response was shocking. They told her “We don’t play with dark-skins, we only play with light skins.” I was just far enough away that I wasn’t sure if that was what I just heard. The little girls ran off and I ran to my daughter and asked her what they said. She confirmed it and told my wife and I later that she said to them, “that is not nice!” To which they replied “We can still say that.”

I was shocked. All I wanted in that moment was to comfort my daughter and assure her that she is loved. That she is beautiful. That I want to be her friend! I talked to her about how God made us all different colors and how we don’t choose who we play with or not play with because of the color of our skin. She said again, “that is not nice!” Yes, and I have another word for it too!

Later that night, my wife was able to talk to her again about the experience and reiterate some of the same things. She was also able to ask her what God’s heart was toward them. She said ‘it makes Him sad’. My wife then asked her what God tells us to do to our enemies. She said “we love them”, and so they payed for the girls to be kind and to know Jesus.

After the whole ordeal I couldn’t help but wish that I would have looked for those girls and their parents and had a talk with them. I can’t help but wonder why they said that so quickly in response to my daughters kind “hello!” Would their parents be shocked if they knew that their daughters said that? Would they or do they say the same things in their own adult ways? What is in store for those little girls if someone doesn’t change their heart towards those who don’t look like them?

I love the way my wife said it in response, “The joy those kids (and families) are missing in knowing those different from them and ultimately knowing the heart of our heavenly Father! Have mercy on them, Lord!”

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11 thoughts on “My Four Year Olds Experience with Racism

  1. Sad to say but maybe those little kids are sick of people like that Harvard professor pulling the race card and making a mockery of the black race. Maybe those little kids as innocent as they should be have already decided that they are not even gonna deal with it. People do not hate a particular race because of their color. They go through experiences in life that lead them to decide how they view certain races and ethnicity. Sad to say but those little kids at that young age have most likely experienced some things with other races that they do not like. Hey but I guess we should all just blame it on the white man. That’s the easy thing to do instead of assuming responsibility for yourself. God did make us all equal. Just depends on what we did with it.

    http://www.kope187.wordpress.com

  2. Wow. That is horrific. I just read this aloud to my kids and we talked about it and what they should do if anyone ever says something similar to their sister with a different skin color. Thanks for sharing.

    z

  3. Wow as a mom of a racially diverse family, my heart was broken to read this. We have not encountered anything quite this harsh however we have had encounters this past year especially after he started public school. I think you guys really handeled this well and are equipping your daughter to see through Jesus’s eyes and not man’s. I tell my son all the time, this is the skin God wrapped you in and I wouldn’t change it if I could!

    This is a chance to empower our children with God’s word and share His heart and love for them but it is still very difficult to watch your children fall victim to it and be hurt. I am praying now that God will continue to protect your daughter and give you and your wife the peace that passes all understanding, the grace and knowlege to handle each thing as it occurs and the ability to combat racism when it does arise in a manner that exalts the God that created everyone in every shade.

  4. This just breaks my heart! I didn’t know such attitudes still existed in America. I wonder what will happen when these girls enter school. As an elementary school teacher, I have never heard such a thing come out of the mouth of any child at my school. If that did come out of any child’s mouth, they would be seriously reprimanded. Though I see racism still in older generations, it just seems so foreign to the children that I know. In fact, as we studied black history month this year, the 3rd graders in my class were shocked and offended that there was ever a time when they would not have been allowed to attend the same school. They said, “That’s not fair! How was that allowed?” They were outraged! There’s no way to really explain in that setting “how” it was allowed…so I just moved forward and focused on how it was changed! In discussing that, we talked about the fact that the people who helped create the change were not liked by many people in their own day (we discussed MLK Jr. in particular), but they are now heroes and studied by every school child in America. I made a big deal of pointing out that the right thing is often not the popular thing. Oh, praying for sweet Keziah!

  5. I’ve read this several times in shock of how those other girls treated your children. It’s so sad and heartbreaking to think that some people only look at color of skin.

  6. Thanks for sharing! My son is only 6 months old, but I know we’ll deal with these kind of issues when he gets older. I just pray for the patience and understanding that you and your wife had! I’m afraid I might have given those little girls’ parents an earful, so I’ll be praying for my reaction when that day comes…

  7. I found your blog through RLC but now I’m thinking you must be the family that was wanting to get together with Care (Carolyn Twietmeyer) when she was here last weekend!
    God has put together some amazing connections for the ministry He is opening up in Ethiopia!
    When I read this post my first feeling was anger.
    Not so much at the children but the parents. Kids don’t say that sort of thing on their own. Why would they?
    They have picked this up from a higher level.
    ugh!!!!
    WHY?
    After all these years, have we really made such little progress in our thinking?
    Why oh why does the amount of melanin in our skin affect the way we think about other people?
    And yet what a teachable moment. The bible does teach us to pray for our enemies. How sad to have “enemies” as a child and all because of skin color.
    Please Lord Jesus, radically CHANGE our perspectives!

  8. jason,

    we have had several situations like this once during a soccer game when we lived in southern delaware a girl 11 called our daughter the n word, our daughter had never heard it and asked me what it meant, since she has become acutely aware of the ignorance and sometimes hate that surrounds race in this country. when i asked the man who ran the soccer program do address the issue he first dismissed it as just a ignorant comment to which i responded that racism no matter what its basis needs to be confronted, he eventually spoke to all the coaches about the matter and it did nto happen again that season. i think we have convinced ourselves as a nation that racims has been solved, with a bi-racial president and our openness to others but racism is alive and well here and all around the world and without God there is no solution.

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