This is my inaugural blog post—my first account of what’s happening in our schools. I actually had the pleasure of sitting with this parent for two hours and talking about what’s happening in the Twin Cities—and around the country. As if I didn’t already know what was transpiring, her live testimonial left me mouth agape. We parted with hugs and have become friends and informants for one another.
Below is a synopsis of what her children have experienced. The above image is not her daughter.
From A.A., Minneapolis, MN
As a bi-racial couple, we knew that conversations about race were going to take place in our family, especially as we raised our children together. But 18 years ago, when we met, we never thought we’d be dealing with race issues quite like we’re having to with our children.
I also imagined it was going to be their peers who were going to be the reason for our conversations not the school and their teachers.
In 3rd grade, one of our children was forced to choose if they were going to sit with the black students or the white students during a “race discussion” because I’d checked both boxes for race on the school registration forms.
Our child came home so upset with me because I hadn’t made that choice for them and they had to choose between Mom and Dad. Because to my 9-year-old, that was what race was before that moment—it was Mom’s skin color and Dad’s skin color, nothing else.
One lesson in 3rd grade has forever changed my child’s perception of how they look at themselves, how they look at their family, and how they view the world. I will never forget the moment when my child looked me in the eye with huge tears coming down her face and said, “Why can’t the adults leave us alone? We just want to be friends with everyone and we don’t care what their skin color is. Just let us be people together?”
Just this year, my other child had a writing assignment that asked if they were the same race as their parents. The look on my child’s face when they realized they would have to say ‘no’ because they were a mix of two races was heartbreaking.
We are a family. And the color of our skin does not define anything in our home. But the school environment is making them feel that they are not like their parents, that they don’t belong. Both of my children have both told me that discussions at school are very “white people” and “black people” and how one oppresses the other, how one group can succeed, how the other can’t, and so on.
My kids realize that they don’t “fit” on either side, but they have family members who they love very much that are on both sides.
The only race issues my children have had to deal with growing up in a bi-racial family have come from their public school teachers. Not their peers, not adults from my small rural hometown, not from older generation family members, just the adults in their life who are supposed to be teaching them how to read, write, and do math.