Sunday, April 12, 2015

My son and my wife were at a playground in Dupont Circle yesterday. Dupont Circle is an affluent, gay-friendly part of the city, and this particular playground is a reflection of that environment. It isn't unusual to see two moms or two dads at the playground, and it isn't unusual to see a wide variety of nationalities playing together. It is however very unusual to see black or brown babies playing on these playgrounds. I don't make the rules, that's simply how it is.

So yesterday, my son Nyles was playing a non-brown/black kid and the following conversation went down:

The kid: Come here boy
Nyles: My name is Nyles
The kid" Come here boy
Nyles: No, my name is Nyles

After my son's second name declaration, the kids went to play together sans incident..for the most part. My wife later told me that in an unrelated incident, my son pushed this other little kid, but quickly apologized, and they resumed playing. But that part is irrelevant to me right now.

I seriously doubt that kid--who had to have been around three or four years old--was intentionally trying to talk down to my son in a condescending, racially-tinged way. I also seriously doubt that my son meant to be militant by ignoring the boy and telling this kid who the hell he was. Kids at that age get the benefit of the doubt. They are learning all things gender related, and they enjoy pointing out who is a boy and who is a girl, and sometimes that happens with common, not proper nouns. But I did find it interesting that this kid's dad, who my wife told me was within earshot, did coach his kid in the moment, and tell him that wasn't cool. If I heard Nyles referring to another kid by simply "girl" or "boy", I would coach him up and tell him that wasn't polite--especially if he said "boy". And when he gets a little older, I will give him a mini-history lesson on why that word (among others) has historically been offensive to black and brown folks.

I don't know if these lessons are taught in other households, but it sure as hell would help nip some injustices in the bud earlier rather than later. You don't have to be a bleeding heart liberal to teach your kids a little history so they know right from wrong. Then again, you have to actually know this history to be able to teach it right? I'm rambling...but there's a smart point somewhere in this entry I hope.

Speaking of Nyles...

Nyles is ready for Washington Wizards playoff basketball.

A photo posted by Rashad (@rashad2075) on

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