We Are Different

407198_10151310228311940_1103455068_nSometimes I feel I push my kids too hard.

I expect a lot out of them.

Good grades should be the norm. Great manners should be as natural as breathing. Being helpful around the house is expected.

Maybe it’s a figment in my mind but I always tell my kids they need to work harder and be better than the other kids because we are “different”.

Growing up racially different in the South in both predominantly white and black neighborhoods made me very conscious that some of White America holds different sets of standards for kids.

By this I mean that a white kid can do something and it gets laughed at brushed over as not a big deal. Contrastingly, a  child of color can do the same exact thing and it be viewed in a totally different manner, often negative.

For example, one day Mo was playing at the park with a group of boys. Some of the boys had sticks. Little Jimmy hit another kid with a stick. The kid cried. Jimmy’s mom made him apologize. Everything was fine. Little Billy hit a kid with a stick. Same result. No big deal. Mo hits little Jimmy with the stick, Jimmy cries…all the parents come over. I hear parents start to whisper and suggest their kids not play with Mo. The idea of playing with sticks is terminated. After apologizing, I urge Mo to go swing. Once he leaves, stick play is resumed.

Sidenote: Yes, no one should have been playing with sticks! lol

Another example, Little Johnny says “shit” one day. Many parents snicker. Mo says shit and someone comments “I see Mo’s been listening to rap music again.” (Actually he’s been listening to me probably. lol)

An adult example is our President. Barack Obama is in his 2nd term as POTUS. When he has a press conference or makes a speech I often hear people comment “Wow. He is so articulate. He speaks so well.” Many people don’t mean harm in saying this, but it irritates me. Were you expecting he NOT speak well? Come on people, he is our PRESIDENT! I don’t recall people regularly pointing out how “articulate” or “well spoken” Bill Clinton or JFK were. Both equally dynamic speakers as President Obama.

It has nothing to do with playing the race card. It’s being realistic. I’m trying to prepare my children for a world that is still growing and accepting people who are different. A world struggling to overcome many preconceived notions and double standards from years ago. A beautiful world filled with some ignorant minds.

I know our country is evolving into a more acceptable place, but I still feel like there are some stigmas placed on kids of color. If you’ve never personally experienced this or seen your child go through it, it’s truly hard to understand.

I’ve had many talks with my kids explaining to them, you can’t do what the other kids do, good or bad. At age 8 Mo is starting to understand don’t let your difference become your clutch, let it be your strength.

You have to be smarter. You have to be more careful. You have to work harder. You have to be better.

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