Multicultural Lessons in School
I’d like to share a story with you. But, first, I’d like you to know how much I love my kids’ elementary school. They have an amazing principal, teachers, and students. I’d also like you to know that my son is a racial minority within his school. Being a white minority has created so many amazing opportunities for our family to discuss race and privilege. They’ve learned many valuable multicultural lessons in school. Sometimes these conversations are funny, like when we had to explain to our sons why they couldn’t have a hairline like the rest of the kids. Sometimes they’re a little confusing, like the times other kids have asked if my sons are cousins with the other white kids in the school. But, then there are times when living in a multicultural school gives me hope for humanity.
As we prepared for bed a few months ago my 8-year-old asked to speak with my wife privately. He opened up about something that happened at school that day involving race. He and his friends were talking in class when one friend mentioned someone he knew who wasn’t present. Another friend commented, “Oh, you mean that white boy?” Logan noticed that he felt offended by what his friend said. He spoke up and expressed his offense and his friend apologized. This small group of second-grade friends seemed touched and intrigued by this experience. Logan said their group spent their whole recess discussing what happened. His friend explained that he was just joking and Logan was able to express how and why he found that comment hurtful. They left their conversation with greater respect for each other as friends.
I love what happened in this situation for all the kids involved. I love that this group of African-American boys learned that their words and how they speak about white people can be hurtful. I love that my son was able to experience the effects of the sly racial humor many African-Americans experience all the time. These experiences have often led to incredible conversations about the various inequalities individuals of other races experience in America.
I very humbly submit this story. There is so much our family still needs to learn. But, I share it because we have received such benefit from living in a multicultural city and school system I felt our perspective could be interesting or even helpful.