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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WATERING SEEDS IN CHILDREN OF THE SOUTH


In Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, during a conversation about what happened at Mother Emanuel AME Church, seven year old Madeleine asked her mother Melanie for a picture of the church where 9 people were murdered because of their skin color.When her 
mother also gave Madeleine photos of the nine victims, Madeline drew this lovely picture.


This child's picture and the questions she asked immediately made me imagine a child that is the very picture of innocence.
But memory, history, main stream media habits, and a couple of comments within the story also made me worry about the kind of person that Madeleine will grow up to be.
"Madeleine's currently working on another drawing, this one of a group of dogs sitting in a field of grass....'Being colorblind is awesome. You should give it a try,' is written across the top of the page.' 
Children, whether black, brown, or white, who are taught that "colorblindness" is a personal trait (21st century definition) that you possess as a "good person" --as opposed to a goal (1960s colorblindness definition) where one seeks to know what one does not know about the racial-other-- are children that grow up to be adults seeking to be blind to race and racism both.

Adults who claim colorblindness as a trait or personal virtue seek to not-know the varied experience of the racial other and invariably avoid the signs and symbols of racism. More importantly, they seek to not-know their own biases.

Whether the people be black or white or somewhere between, this self-destructive/other-destructive attitude puts in place or holds in place the institutional racism that helped make Dylann Foot what he is today -- especially when you decide to be blind to the effects of raising children under this flag. 




"Be colorblind" is not an anti-racism message. This has been tried for 20 years or more, and it's only making the racially unaware stupid and proud of the stupidity on top of that.

"Be color/ethnicity aware and respectful of difference" is the right anti-racism message for 21 century.
 Some of those unaware of being unaware will make an effort to learn. The price of continuing to get this wrong is too high

 [Mommy] "says her family is active in the community, adding that she and her husband try to teach their two children the importance of kindness."  
http://www.abc3340.com/story/29369235/little-girls-drawing-of-charleston-church-strikes-a-chord-with-social-media
Clearly,  this teaching of"kindness" isn't enough, especially since I could have found this quote on child rearing in a 1715 South Carolina Newspaper and discover that the quote came from a slave owner.




 I worry about these messages being given to Madeleine if she and her Mommy are black because Madeleine might be left defenseless if Mommy shows her pictures of murdered people but doesn't take the time to communicate that difference is good, colorblindness goes no place good, and that good people can be racists too


But I am especially worried about such messages being given to a white Madeleine. 


Until Madeleine's Mommy gets it right, Madeleine might have a slightly better chance of turning into a good being than the future slave owner in the photo above.  More than once I've read slave narratives that spoke of little white children that remained innocent and loving with the slaves that cared for them until they turn 11 or 12 or 14 years old. After a certain age these children taught loving "kindness" turned into masters that bossed, beat, and raped.

And though Dylann Foot's *age of turning* into a white person that embraces racial superiority appears to have been upper teens, I seriously doubt the average age of turning has changed much in 150 years. 


I'm not precisely sure what should be said to Madeleine at seven years old. But if Mommy gave her pictures of the dead and told them they were shot due to their skin color, I am sure that Mommy can begin a conversation about the racism inside the good people.

And maybe she did.

Maybe Madeleine's Mommy had the whole race and racism conversation and the article writer wasn't interested.

I hope she did.

 It could very well be that the person who wrote the article didn't want to ruin the innocence of the picture with the ugly reality that many white children of the south are being raised with an empathy so weak that they will never see their own part in maintaining the white supremacy that their local terrorists are being weened on.

 Dylann Foot was 7 years old an innocent once too.

What are we going to do to stop Madeleine from turning into Dylann at 21 years of age? I don't know. But a first step might be to stop southern white children from being raised under that flag.
    


READ MORE ON "White Millennials Are Just About As Racist As Their Parents"http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/07/white-millennials-are-just-about-as-racist-as-their-parents/