How I Talked With My Daughter About Racism
Early one morning a few years ago, my daughter, four at the time, and I were out early dropping off the dry cleaning. The area was pretty quiet and we just pulled up outside and I just out to throw it into the outside slot. As I went around to get back into the driver’s seat, a car went by and a guy yelled out, “Asian woman!”
The insides of me, boiled, for so many reasons.
Not just because of what he had said, but because my daughter in the car. This was the first time that she had been exposed to blatant rudeness. I realize that it could have been worse, I realize that what he said was comparatively mild, but still! Being Asian should not be an insult and it’s amazing how much it is used that way!
The other thing about it that made me see red was that he was such a coward. He did it while my back was turned to him and they sped away, just guessing that he wasn’t alone. They often aren’t. What a coward! At least have the decency to say it to my face and take responsibility for it. That often seems like too much to ask!
I got back in the car and wasn’t sure if my daughter had actually heard it, and if she had, how it affected her. Certainly, I knew that the impact on her was very different than the impact that it had had on me as her mom.
I said, “Did you just hear that guy?” she said, “No,” and even if she hadn’t heard the words, I still told her what he had said, and said,” There are a few people, not many, but a few that think that being White is best thing to be, and think that being Asian is not as good. That is very wrong and we know that’s not true. So, even if people say something to us, we can know that they’re wrong.” She nodded. My daughter was always someone who understood more than I would expect from kids her age. I said, again, “Most people aren’t like that though.”
Sort of like sexual education, I wanted to talk with her before it was needed, and I got it in, just under the wire. I wanted her first experience with racism to be with me, and, for her to hear from me first.