Earlier this week, my 13-year-old son left his school gym uniform in the car so on my way to work, I made it a point to drop it off at school. As I was sitting in the office waiting for him to come and retrieve his uniform, I noticed two girls were sitting next to me. One girl, was a heavy set dark skinned girl, who looked to be about the same age. As I looked out of the window and saw my son heading towards the office, the heavy set dark skinned girl said to her friend, “He looks like a burnt french fry”, as she was pointing to my son. I immediately thought to myself, “WTF did this kid just say? I hope she’s not talking about my son”, but of course she was because he was the only kid in the hallway.
As my son walked into the office, the girl looked at me as if she was shocked and was still running her mouth. Apparently she didn’t realize that I was his mother and was waiting for him in the office. As she’s staring at me, I’m staring at her. Eventually she stopped talking when she saw the mean look on my face. My blood was boiling. I wanted to snatch her up and shake some sense into her. My initial reaction was to be hurtful, just as she was hurtful to my son. I wanted to say something back to her like, “Girl, you have the nerve to talk about my son? When you’re the same complexion? He’s well dressed and you’re here looking homeless in your school uniform?”, but I didn’t want to make a scene, because after all my son didn’t hear the comments she said. I didn’t want my son to know what was going on. I didn’t want him to hurt inside and for his confidence to go down.
My son is the epitome of tall (for a 13-year-old), dark and handsome. Just picture Lance Gross at that age, and you have my son. But I’m light skinned. My son’s father is from Ghana. His dark skin and my light skin combined made my handsome son. What really pisses me off is the colorism and black on black racism that exists not only amongst adults, but also our kids. My son shouldn’t have to go to school and be teased black other black people because he is dark skinned. My son is there to receive an education, not to live in shame because of the color of his skin, especially at the hands of his own “people”. It’s no wonder why so many kids hate going to school because of the fear of getting bullied or made fun of because another kid doesn’t like something about them.
Parents, black parents especially, we have to do better with our kids. Talk to them. Teach them their roots before slavery, during slavery and after slavery in what we call this “post-racial” society. Love them. Uplift them so they can learn to love themselves and in turn they will not show hatred towards other people. I’ve made it a point to teach my son that it doesn’t matter what color someone is, black, brown, yellow, tan, no one deserves to be treated differently. Nobody should be made fun of. In other race’s eyes we are all the same. From the highest yellow to the darkest black, we’re all black to them.
To the little girl in the office, I hope the same hateful comments she inflicted on my son, aren’t inflicted upon her. I hope one day someone tells her she’s beautiful, despite how she may feel about other people or herself.
“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless” L.R Knost
April Boller is a make-up artist in the Washington, D.C. area. You can catch her on her own blog at http://aprilscupoftea.blogspot.com/.