I don’t know what else to call what I experienced today through hanging out with a little girl in kindergarten.
We were at the soccer field watching Tyler play soccer like we do most Thursdays in the spring. There was a little girl whose father was playing on a different team and she came over to play with Dmitri. Dmitri was getting his sunscreen on and she wanted some too so her skin didn’t burn. Cool, I like kids that are careful about skin cancer. Though she has little worry about in that regard because she’s black. After sunscreen we shared our pretzels and water and played for a little bit. We went for a walk and then went back to her dad. I asked if I could take her to the playground and splash pad with us and he was happy to let her go. Apparently she goes to the games a lot but gets bored and talks to anyone who will listen to her. Dmitri loved having a friend to play with so off we went.
Dmitri held her hand and mine as we walked towards the playground. She was telling me about how excited she was to play in the water but was worried about being made fun of because she didn’t have a swimsuit. I told her that when people say mean things like that we just walk away. We have no time in our lives for bullies. She seemed to like this and went on and on about how no one needs to be bullied and bullies are just mean. I agreed. She also mentioned that we looked like a family except that she was a different colour. Before I could say anything she said “but that doesn’t matter. Families have different skin like white and black and blue and it’s ok!” Then she laughed because said someone can be blue. I agreed that it isn’t the colour of our skin that makes us a family.
She chatted more about getting sprayed with water as we approached the park and then she and Dmitri took off. I put our stuff on a free bench and she came over to take off her shoes. She kinda looked at a couple boys and said they were staring at her. I told her to ignore their staring and go play with Dmitri but she looked sad and didn’t want to play in the water any more. She asked me where the boys mother’s were and I said I dunno, they didn’t look like they were around. She seemed kind of frightened to go into the water now with the boys around. Obviously I wasn’t going to force her so we took Dmitri to play on the playground.
As we were walking she told me that the boys that were staring called her a ni**er. I didn’t hear it because I was scanning for Dmitri and they were clearly trying to be quiet about it. Telling me this she was just so sad and dejected. I on the other had was pissed as well as sad. No 5 or 6 year old should have to deal with this. The fact that she knew what that word was and how it was used makes me believe she has heard it before at least a few times. And that’s just awful.
The boys that called her that were maybe 10 or 11. Old enough to know exactly what the word means and should know better than to use it. Especially use it against a little girl. Fuck those kid’s parents. Yes the boys should know better but that language starts with the parents. Kids don’t pick stuff like that up out of nowhere.
We heard about how racist America can be but thanks to our white privilege, we’ve never had to experience it (we’ll maybe Tyler with our neighbour possibly thinking he was the Mexican help… it’s a long story). Today though, I got slapped in the face with my white privilege by watching the aftermath of what a racial slur does when experienced by a little girl in kindergarten. I’m so sad for her. I’m sad that she’s had to experience that at such a young age and I’m sad that it’s not going to be the last time. She shouldn’t know what that word is before she’s even finished kindergarten.
I don’t know how to finish this post. There’s nothing I can say or do to fix it. The only thing Tyler and I can do is make sure that Dmitri never uses that kind of language against anyone. I can’t even think of what an appropriate punishment would be for that. Hopefully I never have to.
Fuck racist dicks.