I remember the moment my daughter learned about racism.
Jovi had a best friend named Rochelle. When we first met her, she had walked over to my yard to ask if Jovi could play with her. She said, “can your daughter play with me? I’m a good person I promise. I don’t smoke cigarettes or cuss or anything.” 😂 I laughed on the inside because that was such a hilarious thing for a 5 year old to say. I told her “absolutely!” So the 2 girls played every day. They played chalk, beads, fairies, ponies, bubbles…they hardly ever fought and I loved that she had such a sweet and well mannered friend. Rochelle was very sweet and polite. Anytime I offered her a snack she would run home to ask her mom if she could eat it first, which was so cute and I loved it. 😅They always asked me to take their picture because they couldn’t believe how much they were like twins. 😉🥰
One day they were playing on the swing set in the front yard under the shady tree. A neighbor lady came out and yelled “you need to get off their property!” I heard her through the screened window so I came outside and was so confused. I thought maybe there was a mean stray dog or a stranger in my yard. Looking around. It was just the kids. I said “what? Who are you talking to?” She said “HER!” Pointing at Rochelle. I replied, “there’s no problem here. These kids are just playing on the swing set.” The now angry neighbor lady said “No! She needs to go home, that’s not her property!” I was getting angry now, as well. I said, “This little girl is our guest and she’s ALLOWED to be here playing! Now go back inside and mind your own business!” She went inside and slammed her door.
The moment I had tried to protect my daughter from reaching. A trickling loss of childhood innocence. I worked placing foreign exchange students from around the world, and we had housed a student in our own home recently, so she knew about many cultures. She has 2 cousins adopted from Africa. She knew about different skin colors but never knew that anyone thought negatively in their differences.
Jovi said “what was that all about mom?” Rochelle, crying a little bit, said, “that lady was being racist and doesn’t want me to play here.” Jovi said, “what’s racist mean?” Rochelle answered, “it’s when someone hates you because you’re black like me.” I sensed a pause. I wondered what she would say next. I was nervous. Hoping her logical mind would come to a positive conclusion. Deep breath. And then Jovi said “that’s stupid! Your skin is pretty.” Rochelle said “I know.” And they hugged laughed and went back to swinging.
Later that day, I had some neighbor friends help me move the swing set to the backyard so the lady across the street wouldn’t be able to watch them play anymore. This made the girls feel less nervous. Jovi and Rochelle kept on being neighbor best friends until her family moved away kind of suddenly and we lost touch. But I’m glad we were all a part of each other’s lives for a little while. I’m thankful for good friends who help us learn and for good neighbors who help us play in peace ❤️