The late and great Nelson Mandela once said that no one is born hating. This was never more evident than it was last week when I took it upon myself to teach my two older boys some history relating to black side of their culture.
As I related the story of how our foreparents were enslaved by whites, Kenyan my 5-year old going on 13, blurted out, “That’s why I love you more than mommy!” I asked him why and his response was, “Because she is white.” Now this could be reason for alarm. Am I unknowingly teaching my kids racism? Man is this thing ever backfiring. I set out to salvage my lesson and eliminate the fire before it became an inferno, quickly explaining that slavery was not ongoing but took place hundreds of years ago. I also introduced Martin Luther King and how his dream to see black and whites playing and living together had materialized. In the end I thought I did a good job eliminating any thoughts of hatred towards the white man that Kenyan would have been cultivating.
As I took him to his room, he asked me why I didn’t tell the story to his brother Treyton. “Well Treyton is too young.” I told him. “He would tell the white people?” He asked innocently. I couldn’t help laughing at that one. Kids do say that darnedest thing.
The next day while having supper with my mom, Kenyan whispered to me, “Daddy, I feel sorry for Nana.” “Why so?” I asked fearing the explanation. “Well she’s black and the white people were mean to her.” Oh son, maybe you are a bit too young too…
I looked back at this as a learning experience for not only my sons but for me too. It made me remember what Nelson Mandela said. So this is how racism is passed along to generations. It would have been easy for me to poison my sons’ mind.