Racist Outburst at High School Basketball Game Makes Me Fear My Kid Will Be a Bigot Too

black and whiteThe one thing that has always given me pause about raising my kid in the country is the complete and total lack of ethnic diversity. Everywhere you turn, there are white folks as far as the eye can see. And the brouhaha over racist slurs used to by white kids to taunt players at Pittsburgh basketball game is not doing much to make me feel better about my current choices.

The story goes that teens from the predominantly white Brentwood High School dressed up in banana suits on the sidelines and started screaming at their rivals. They allegedly called players from Monessen High, where most of the students are black, monkey and other disgusting slurs.

It's disgusting. It's disturbing. And even though there's debate over the truth of the allegations right now, it's still the kind of thing that keeps me up at night, wondering if I'm doing enough to teach my child to embrace other races and cultures.

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I'm not saying incidents like the one that happened at Brentwood don't happen in places that are more mixed. I'm sure they do. But the more homogenized a society is, the easier it is for kids to develop a fear of anything or anyone who is "different," who doesn't fit into the fabric of their day to day life. Seeing the kids who are accused to throwing out these disgusting racial taunts came from a school where all their peers were white, I can only imagine they lack the understanding that a rich cultural childhood gives a child.

When we moved back to my hometown, I knew this would be a challenge. We had just three kids who would fall under the term "minority" in my entire high school class: one girl who was Hispanic, a boy of color, and a biracial girl who happened to be my best friend. It's because she and I spent so much time together that I know how hard it was for her to have beautiful coffee-colored skin but live in a divorced household with a white mom and a white grandma, and have only white kids for friends.

Our area is so white, that when a local town showed up on a national reality show, there were criticisms online that the production company must have edited out the minorities. In fact, there simply are so few in town that the one Asian woman seen on the show happens to be one of the few Asian people my daughter knows (and her biracial daughter is one of my kid's best friends). 

And so we have to push beyond our borders to make sure our child never shows the closed minds of those idiots in the banana suits. We have gay friends and friends of other races. We read books with ethnically-diverse characters (and not just during Black History Month). And we spend as much time as we can in other places, big cities where she can see the masses of people from every walk of life coming together in the great melting pot that is America.

Failure is not an option. Finding out my kid was on the sidelines at a high school basketball game using racial slurs is not an option.

How do you ensure your child is getting a culture-rich education?

 

Image via Pink Moose/Flickr

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