Ruby Bridges

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Norman Rockwell’s famous painting of 6 year old Ruby Bridges

When I heard Ruby Bridges was going to be speaking in our area, I decided right away that Addis & I would be going.

It was at a venue 1 1/2 away, so I pulled her out of school. We arrived at 2:15 & waited outside online until 6:00.  Addis was a champion! Not a single complaint! And she listened to the talk intently. I am so pleased that Addis had the opportunity to meet Ruby Bridges & get her book signed. She showed the book to her class the next day.

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Ruby Bridges

During the talk, I posted what Ruby Bridges was saying, as closely as I could:

                                        She thought she was going to college

She thought the school was sooo much nicer than her previous school

The second day the crowds doubled. When her mother saw it on tv, she thought, “oh God what have I done? “

As a 6 yr old she could see Separate was not Equal

She could see her teacher looked like them. But soon realized she wasn’t them.

2 schools were chosen to integrate, & they were schools in the most racist parts of town

She says all of her neighbors walked behind the marshall’s car everyday, escorting her for support

Sitting in the class room She could hear kids yelling at her

She saw only marshals on the playground & thought there were no kids there.

She couldn’t go to the cafeteria because of threats to poison or hang her.

She thought all the kids were in the cafeteria & she’d have to go there to make friends.

Teachers quit their job

They thought she wasn’t eating because she was worried, but it was because she was throwing out her lunch hoping she could go to the cafeteria.

She just wanted to make friends. She was so disappointed.

The worst part of first grade was the loneliness

There were white patents who wanted to send their kids to school with her…but they lost their jobs, crosses burned on their lawns, threats to their lives & safety.

Children who were sent to go to school with her were kept away by the principal

Her teacher would confront the principal about breaking th law.

A little boy told her “my mom said not to play with you because you’re a n***er”

That’s when she understood what was happening.

He hurt her feelings, she just wanted someone to play with.

She works in schools every day & listens to their stories of being bullied.

She said a little girl told her she gave her the courage to be brave when something bad happened to her

My story is bigger than me, I’m just a vehicle

I feel responsibility to explain racism to children. Which is hard, because there’s no sense to it.

Racism takes away children’s clean heart

I cannot judge a person by looking at them, I have to know them. Dr MLK taught us that

We are responsible for what we see unfolding before us today.

I still can’t really understand it. What we see unfolding in front of us, what is it about?

They didn’t see a child, they saw what they were losing, change. Is that the case today?

If so, we’re losing, there will never be a place with no race.

We don’t have the luxury to trust & love only people who look like us.

I’m speaking to you as a mom who’s lost the most precious thing, a child, to murder.

We are being separated. There is a them and us. It’s good & evil & looks like me and you.

Good will win. My message is to come together, I want you on my team, we have to fight the evil.

Kids: you can change the world.

Asset the civil rights museum, there was a wall of all the freedom riders, & they were all different, black white Asian Hispanic. How did we get here?

I’m just as upset as most of you at what is happening now.

I hope that what I say inspires You to think about how we can make the world better. We can’t afford to lose another child.

Norman Rockwell, he didn’t know what to do. So he stepped away from what he knew and he painted it. It inspires us to ask “what can I do”

If I’m not shouting it from the mountains, I’ll be whispering it to every child. We have to end this.

Racism is a grown up disease.

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#rubybridges

#rubybridges2015

 

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Those Evil Laws

Being the parent of a Black child means I have to talk to her about some things more intentionally & earlier than I did with my big kids. With Ponyboy & Jasmine, I didn’t have to teach them about racism, about our country’s ugly history, about Native American genocide, about segregation before it came up in school.

(actually, i DID have to, i just didn’t know it)

For Martin Luther King Day, Addis’ Kindergarten teacher read the class a book about MLK. When I picked her up that day, the teacher grabbed me & told me that Addis was the only student who knew who he was & what he did, & she shared what she knew (beaming with pride). Of course, she is the only non-blonde child in the class.

(maybe i’m exaggerating here, there may be a few non-blondes. but you know, alll those white kids look the same)

It started almost TWO YEARS ago when she was racially attacked (https://peanutbutterinjerasandwiches.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/my-kids-not-racist/) I realized that I needed to teach her about racism so that she knew it when she saw it. So that people couldn’t use words against her, so that she would really know what was going on when ugly people belittled her…I already *knew* this, I just didn’t know that I’d have to start it so early in her life. I didn’t know people were racist against beautiful 3 yr old girls.

So I had to teach her about our ugly past (and present). We started way back in the Old Testament, with the Egyptians enslaving the Hebrews. We talked about The institution of African Slavery in the Americas. The American Civil War took place because enough people found slavery abhorrent & wanted it to end.  We talked about how there are still slaves everywhere in the world today.

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We talk about how it is of utmost importance to speak up when someone is being held down. That may mean a child is being bullied at school. It may be a friend saying ugly things trying to be funny. It might be discriminatory laws. We talk about Malala Yousafzai, how she was shot in the head (along with 3 other girls) and how that didn’t stop her from doing what she knew was right to do & now she is changing the world. A teenage girl.

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I can make a difference. You can make a difference. She can make a difference. She WILL make a difference.

Are Your Boobs Fake?

This was my Facebook status recently;

HEY WHITE PEOPLE:
Its fine to give a compliment, but WHY would you ask if a little girl’s hair is “real” or “fake”?

Two of my (adoptive mothers of black girls) friends “shared” this. Here are mine, & their, responses:

  • What about if a brown person asks?
  • Amen…
  • First of all Brown people know better .. second they dnt ask if tits r real…lol 
  • No they don’t, not in Florida! My son’s girlfriend complains about the invasive hair questions all the time
  • That only mean it looks too good to be true, doesn’t it? Plus, what does this have to do with race? I’ve asked the same thing about a blonde’s hair color
  • I hear ya, never known a little white girl that was asked if her hair is real or fake and I`m older then the moon ~~
  • Oh my. Why ask anything? Compliment or go away!
  • I was once asked if my daughter has a perm. Yes…. I permed my one year olds hair. Ridiculous.
  • Me:  Black people know what her hair is. When a child is asked DAILY if their hair is “real” it can affect her self-image. Especially if it s a feature which is very different from everyone else. We all know how to use google. I love the “nice boobs, are they real?” comment
  • Me: asking a blonde, who is old enough to color her hair, is different than asking a little girl ifs she is “fake”
  • First of all your little’s girl iS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! Is she alone when ‘RUDE’ people ask this question or not??? I HOPE SHE IS WITH YOU AND KNOWING YOU, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH AN ANSWER THAT WILL BLAST THEM OFF THEIR FEET AND THEN GIVE THEM A BIG SMILE AND WALK AWAY I would like to be there when you do it!!!!! I have even come up with some answerrs in my own mind that I would say to them but that is you choice but make them GOOD!!!!!!!!!!  Let me know what you do do or say, please, and give your little a big hug/ Remember her hair is so awesome that when they first see her they are blown away by how awesome it just is!!!!
  • Me: She gets if with me and on her own. I’m saying something about it so that if people Don’t know, well now they will.
  • Me (to a deleted comment): A compliment is fine. Asking a 4 year old -especially an adult asking- “is that fake hair/is your hair real?” is not okay. Black people know what it is, or how to ask if they are looking for more information. Just about every day that my little girl has extensions in (which she loves) she’s asked if her hair is fake. By white people,children AND adults. There’s quite a difference if you’re asking an autonomous person a non-invasive question.
  • Me: It is a different context when a white person- particularly an adult- is asking. In our culture caucasian is the “default” setting. Whether or not You personally find black women attractive, our culture percieves caucasian as more desirable…black features are not the ideal, black hair needs to be “fixed”. I was told (by an Ethiopian-American woman) that its too bad Addis’ hair is so bad. Usually when it’s a white person commenting/asking they don’t KNOW about extentions. So, this is my Public Service Announcement. If you are about to ask a little black girl if her hair is “real”, go to google. That’s what it is for. Hearing comments DAILY makes a little one question themself…she wants to have Rapunzel’s hair. Let’s face it, it’s not likely to happen. So she gets extentions, & then is questioned continually to explain herself.
  • MeYES, I KNOW I signed up for this.I signed up to have my daughter quesioned “where’s your mom?” “how come your mom is white?” etc all the time. And, because I signed up for it, It is MY JOB to educate those around me. If you didn’t know, as a THREE year old, my daughter was subjected to a racial attack. The world we live in will only include more people unlike yourself, so if what you hear sounds odd, listen to it & see where the other person is coming from.
  • I know what you are talking about. The other thing we have had problems with, even with the boys is people       touching their hair without asking and then making comments. I can’t believe how many times I had to ask adults   “please don’t touch their hair”. The boys are bigger and scarier now but Tauni still has strangers touch her hair without   asking. sheesh people.

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Apparently, several people found it offensive that I said “hey WHITE people”. I wasn’t out to offend people, but if You needed to hear the comment, it was my job to tell you.  This “conversation” occurred about 3 weeks ago, but is still coming up.

 

My Kid’s Not Racist

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My American Girl

Well, It happened.

Our beautiful girl has been home for 21 months. She’s almost 3 1/2 years old. And this beautiful, friendly, little girl has been told that she’s not liked because she’s black. And because she’s African, and nobody likes Ethiopia either.

By someone close to us.

I am so pissed. I am disappointed. I am sad.

This person is almost 11 yrs old, is the child of someone close to us, & is a neighbor.

Fortunately Jasmine was there. She yelled at him, she took Addis away, & she called & left a message on the parent’s phone. Not sure what I should do from here.

The thing is, I knew that this would happen, sooner or later. But by a friend?? And at THREE years old?? WTF?????

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It happened.

I knew it probably would. But I was hoping it would be another year, or maybe 2!, or more.

My beautiful perfect brown Princess said “I wish I white”.

Maybe she didn’t mean it with the depth I’m assigning to it. Even if that’s so, it’s a precurser to what she is likely to experience as an African growing up in a white family & community. A second later she was pointing out to her aunt “we match” to the palms of their hands. And then we talked about how the 3 of us match, we all have brown eyes. In fact, all the girls have brown & all the boys have blue.

And then that was that.