Racism for Kids

There are a thousand things my mother has told me not to consume.

Strange fruit. Dirty fingers. Those silica gel beads you get at the bottom of shoe boxes.

Most of this I learnt as a child.  In those faded though formative years in which I would do as she did. Mimic her ways like a proud and pint-sized caricature prone to drowning myself in her clothing while she protected me from being poisoned.

Mothers just don’t poison their children, you see.

Not unless they’re sick or cruel or unbothered as to whether their children live or die.  Mother’s don’t taint their children’s cereal and they don’t corrupt their water so it’s always a shock to see how carelessly a parent will poison a child’s mind.

A little while ago, a little white child told her Grade 1 classmate that they couldn’t attend her party because her mother didn’t allow black people into their house.

The year is 2016. The apartheid laws which separated the comingling of black and white are indisputably grotesque and gone but somewhere in a “slegs blankes” house in independent Namibia a child is being poisoned.

A child is being told that black is not good enough to cross a white threshold.

A child is being taught to feel so comfortable in their prejudice that they can walk up to a classmate and tell them black is unworthy of occupying  space between white walls and the  child is doing this simply because children trust their parents.

They trust them to have their best interests at heart.

They trust them to teach them right from wrong.

They trust them to want them to have great lives in a good world and this is what they believe when their parents teach them racism.

When their parents caution them not to use the same cups and plates as the black domestic worker, not to swim in a public pool when it is too full of “raisins” or not to invite a black classmate to a celebration.

Because mommy and daddy know best, these children live convinced that their parents are showing them the way to a good life.

The same parents who can be found cringing, scowling and demanding more attention or first service by virtue of being white in multiracial spaces.

Parents who may have been born and may die in Africa without loving its people.

Parents who spend their days in a state of low fury clearly visible when they are made to stand behind a line of black people in bank, shopping or Home Affairs queues.

Inconceivably, this misery, this plague, perhaps passed down from their parents and their parents before them is what they wish on their kids.

Instead of taking stock of the freedom that is and moving beyond the atrocity that was, some parents would rather live solely in lily white rooms rather than let their children go out and play in a multicolor world.

These parents were poisoned too.

And maybe it’s too late for them but it’s not too late for their children.  So instead of literally and figuratively breeding hate, they can teach a love they may not feel themselves but which they know is the way forward.

When you love your children, you wish them happiness, freedom and a rich, full life.

You don’t place hate and superiority in their tiny hands and decrease their possible playmates, friends and lovers by millions.

You don’t raise them in Africa and tell them to hate  just about everyone on the continent for something as superficial as skin and you don’t put yourself in the heartbreaking position of watching your children love but leave you when they realize it is okay to love, learn from and lay with black people.

Instead, in spite of yourself, you give your children the world.

Not half of it. Not just the white bits. All of it. In every colour there is.

You do better by your child than your parents did by you. You expand their world, not shrink it.

If your child is lucky and eventually comes to his or her senses, they won’t thank you for making it that much harder for them  to love,  to walk into a room or to exist. They’ll look at you the way anyone would look at the person who poisoned them. With horror.

Perhaps even with pity.

If pure love doesn’t stop you, know that intentionally poisoning a child is a criminal offence.

It goes against the law of nature and can drastically devastate your child’s ability to function happily in society.

A society that is black, white, coloured and more.

I’m not sure of much but I’m sure that we’re not going back.

Not to separate education and entrances.

Not to ‘Slegs Blankes’ benches and beaches.

Not to a world in which status and success are inextricably intertwined with skin.

A parent is supposed to protect their child not willfully inject them with  poison.

We are not going back.

But your child and their child can come with us.

So let them go. Let them see what you are too far gone to see and let them live peacefully, tolerantly, and lovingly as a functioning and free member of the only race that  matters.

The human one.