Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

At the pool

I can't decide if it's ignorance or racism, or both, but I do know that it still has me reeling.

Having two non-white children, I am often asked if we've experienced racism in any way. Before today, there have been only a few times where this happened and in each case it was off-color jokes or a comment from one person to another. One example was when one person asked another if he would please refill her cup of coffee while he had the pot. He responded by saying, "What color do you think I am?" As soon as he said it, he looked over at me and was immediately repentant. In the end, I think he realized how easily a racist thought can slip out and I believe he will be more careful about what he says in the future. I'm also thankful that neither of my children were around when this incident happened.

This afternoon, however, it happened in a place that I would least expect it, the pool at a church camp. Granted, HopeAnne was the only non-white in the pool at the time. A lifeguard came over to her and yelled at her for being in the pool without a parent when I was, indeed, just a few feet away, supervising both Hope and Eden. The lifeguard's response was, "Oh, I'm just checking." While I was trying to determine her true motives, and while trying to keep the Mama Bear Claws from showing, I watched as another mother carried her toddler to the pool, lowered him into the 4 ft. deep water in front of the same lifeguard, and walked away, clearly not planning to supervise her son. Why was that child, obviously younger than Hope, allowed to swim without a parent, but my child was not?

I don't know and I may never know. But I will continue to be vigilant, to teach if necessary, both my children and the people with whom we come in contact. Learning to respect your mother isn't just about respect for me, but also learning to respect that store owner who follows you around the store just because of your skin color. Or that police officer who pulls you over and expects a fight from you because of your skin color. I'm sorry that that is the world in which we live and I'm sorry that you will need to educate others. But I will never say I'm sorry for having a colorful family.

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