Friday, November 7, 2008


I really hate talking about politics. I know that I just did on Tuesday and here I am about ready to do it again, but something happened today that really just infuriated me.

I was subbing in a 4th grade classroom. The kids were taking an English quiz and a little boy approached me with his finger pointed at one of the sentences. The sentence talked about the rose gardens at the White House and this little boy, with a confused look on his face asked me, "Why are they talking about rose bushes at the White House? They don't have roses there anymore."

Thinking he was referring to the time of year when everything dies, I said, "Well, there aren't roses there right now but in the spring and summer, they're back again."

He shook his head and looked at me like I was ignorant and told me, "No! Obama got rid of all of them."

I then went on to explain to him that Barack Obama is still a senator until January and right now he's just the president-elect and isn't making decision about roses in the White House flower garden.

And then, here's where I almost lost it on this 9 year old who is obviously been horribly misguided. He said to me without a smile, grin, laugh, or anything else to indicate he was telling me a joke (this would be a truly horrific joke if he were trying to tell it as a joke), "Obama ripped out all the rose gardens to make a watermelon patch. That's what his kind like."

For a moment, I thought that all the air had been sucked out of the room. I couldn't breathe. Here I was...faced with a 9 year old bigot who had been taught to be a bigot by someone, somewhere that he trusted.

My first reaction was to yell at him or shake him and scream, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!???????"

I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer that God would show me what to do because I wasn't sure where to go with this. Then I heard this little voice in my heart that said, "He doesn't know any different. This is what he's been taught."

So, for the next several minutes, bigot boy and I had a very serious conversation on racism, racial slurs, and the choices we make with our words. He never would tell me where exactly he had heard it, but I have a pretty good guess. While I don't know his parents, I suspect that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I told him things like that were poison and type of poison is what has caused violence against human beings for hundreds of years.

I was bothered by what the little boy said, but I was also horrified and embarrassed by my community. People in ours and surrounding communities aren't really open minded when it comes to other races. The closest thing to any kind of racial exposure our town gets is when people go into the Chinese restaurant downtown. I felt compelled to make sure my children know how lucky they are to live in a country where literally, anyone can be whatever he or she wants to be if that person works hard enough.

So, while we were driving to our nearest "real" town about 30 miles away to go out for dinner, I began lecturing them on the evils of racism and how it has no purpose. Jonah then told me that kids at school were saying that if a person didn't like Barack Obama, then that person was a racist. See how ignorant our community is? Children don't even realize that an individual can disagree with another person's political point of view and still respect that individual as a human being. It's an all or nothing situation with so many of them. Many kids don't even realize what racism truly is.

As I've said before, I have always voted Republican and I don't know if I'm going to be very happy with all the policies our new president is endorsing. I don't know if I believe everything he says, but this has nothing to do with the color of his skin; it's just the nature of politics.

Meanwhile, today's situation has made me realize that Mike and I have a our work cut out for us. We need to make sure our kids are going to be the ones to set the ignorant straight in our community. I want my children to root for the underdog (which in our community means anyone that isn't popular and white) and reach out to help them and not make stupid, insensitive comments based on a person's color, looks, economic status, or intelligence.

Sometimes I think our country has come so far and then an incident like today happens and suddenly, it feels like we're going backwards and nobody seems to care.

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