This is a rough one...
Today brought some painfully sad news to our house.
I found out this evening that a very dear and loved friend was actually the recipient of true Hate mail. Finding this out about one of the most thoughtful, caring, compassionate, open-minded, and giving people I know was a definite blow for me. She's many miles away and I can't hug her and it hurts. It hurts that someone (many many many people in this world) would do this. It hurts that because of her (and her amazing family's) faith she/they are thrust into a world of hate, more so than others. It hurts that so much ignorance and intolerance and hatred exists and she has now been forced to feel it and see it in her own personal daily life thanks to one cowardly individual.
I was getting ready to start dinner this evening when I was informed of this heart-sickening example of ignorance. After expressing my love to her, I headed into the kitchen but the tears began. Evan asked me what was wrong and I told him that our friend (whom he met at D & I's wedding-so I showed him a picture to refresh his memory) got a very mean letter in the mail from somebody that she didn't know. He looked a little upset, but not understanding any more, was also confused as to why that would put me in tears. I then explained to him that because she believes something different, somebody who doesn't know her decided that she's not worthy of his love. Or anyone elses.
We talked about how there are, unfortunately, lots and lots of people in this world that think that if you don't believe what they do or don't look the way they do, that you're not worthy of anyone's love. That you're not worthy of life. And some of these people actually hurt/kill those that don't agree with them. That one he got. As much as a child completely unaware of stigmas or bias could. He was able to recall his lesson in school about slavery and about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and apply that to all the marvelous differences in the world. Different religions/faiths, different skin colors, different nationalities. I told him that just like the things that he learned the slaves suffered hundreds of years ago, people still feel those now. And not just "black people" (I chose the more physically descriptive term so that he could identify it in his minds' eye) but Hispanic people and......this is where he cut me off with a pained look on his face and said "like Dominic???".
Yes, like Dominic and his whole family. The truly hurt look came when I specified, "like your sister".
I had to explain to my sweet unassuming son that his sister will most likely have to feel some kind of pain from someone just because of her last name and heritage.
I am NOT ok with this!!!!!!
We talked a bit more about different examples of differences amongst people and whether or not that meant that they were unworthy of love or compassion. From skin colors, to the way they dress, to physical handicaps, to beliefs.
He expressed an understanding but I know that this is NOT something he understands. And I so desperately wish he didn't have to...
Please Parents....PLEASE take the time to discuss this with your kids. With your whole family. It's not an easy discussion and figuring out the best way to say these things so that kids can understand is difficult. But it NEEDS to be done!! We need to teach our children Tolerance and Acceptance and Love. It is absolutely one of the MOST important things we can possibly pass on.
Have this discussion periodically. Make sure it's NEVER something that feels taboo. And don't just assume your kids know. Tell them. FREQUENTLY!!!
I was given a reading recommendation from this very same friend (who also just happens to have her very hard-earned Masters in Social Work).
Racism Explained to my Daughter by Tahar Ben Jelloun
It's currently available on Amazon used for as low as 1 cent. Click Here to go straight to it.
Please. Get it. Head over to Amazon or go check your local library.
This is soooooooo worth it!
Signing off this evening with much sadness but soooo much love,