In fact, both of my parents are racist. This isn’t something that I just discovered. In the past, my parents have been careful about the content of their conversations when in the presence of my children. Now that my kids are almost grown, my parents seem less aware of how they state their feelings and opinions concerning people of another race or culture. I realize that they are from a different era than I am, but I have always tried to be politically correct when having a discussion with them, hoping to influence their thinking in some way.
My husband and I are proactive when it comes to giving back to the community, which has become a way of life for our kids. We have instilled in them what we think is a good value system which includes treating all people equally.
Earlier this week my oldest daughter and I stopped by to see my mom. I commented on the fact that her neighbor was finally getting a new roof and that it looked nice so far. I had no idea that my comment would take the conversation in a different direction.
My daughter and I spent the next five minutes listening to mom’s descriptive commentary on the black roofer and his crew. We learned that “the black roofer’s wife or what ever she is, showed up with their baby, it was a mixed race baby because I could see its skin.” We also learned that “the roofer’s wife or what ever she is, fixed the roofers shirt when they were standing on the tree lawn.” Long story short, We now know that black roofers are messier than white ones and that they take longer to complete the job. Not much was said about the roof. Although college educated later in life, I find it hard to believe sometimes that my parents ever stepped through the doors of an institution of higher learning. My daughter finds it hard to believe that I am even related to them. I told her that grandparents can be a valuable resource for children of all ages, and that even though they sometimes embarrass us or even behave badly, she still needs to be respectful toward them. Thankfully, racist tendencies are beyond my daughter’s comprehension. Perhaps together she and I might be able to find a polite way of explaining to my parents that certain phrases or comments are socially unacceptable.