When we first talked about bringing Pipo into our family, we talked about the possible ignorance we may face. Thankfully, there have been incredibly few instances over the last three years...but when it does come up, it is a terrible reminder to us that it is out there... it exists.
Today I had the kids at Fitz's big end of the year wrestling tournament. We go every year, so by this point, my kids know the building really well, and I am pretty comfortable to let them run loose there. So I was standing with another parent, watching a match when a woman walked up to me holding Emma's hand. She told me that Emma was alone on the first floor of the building and a group of boys were harassing her. I laughed a little and told her that they were probably her brothers. The woman was still upset, and told me they were 'threatening' Emma and telling her they would give her candy if she kissed someone. I asked Emma who, and she said Pipo, Charlie and Tommy. I told Emma to go get them, and again told the woman they were just her brothers, and I was sure they were just teasing her. The woman, looking very angry at this point, said "No... there was an African American boy there, and she looked scared!"
And there it goes... the bigger black boy with the smaller white girl. Obviously a little thug, obviously up to no good, obviously the poor little white girl was in danger from the black kid.
I told the woman a little more firmly this time... "Yes.. that is her brother," and I walked away. But I walked away fuming. If it had been Charlie or EJ teasing Emma, this would not have happened. But because it was Pipo, this woman assumed he was up to no good. The fact that she said Emma looked scared made me laugh... of course she was scared. A strange woman grabbed her by the hand and dragged her away!
I took all the kids aside and talked to them about teasing, but I also told them what this woman said. I have talked with all of the kids about this before. They need to know it's out there. They need to know that some people will see Pipo' skin color first. It makes me angry that a normal sibling moment turns into this, but it is part of our life. It is part of life that Pipo will always have to deal with, and moments like this are just part of the learning process for him.
The funny thing is that after it all, I was still fuming... I wanted to haul that mom outside and knock the ignorance out of her. (I know... very mature, but it's the mama bear thing I have going... don't threaten my cubs.) But Pipo was in a great mood afterwards. I couldn't understand at first, because it made me so mad. But then he said "Mom, you're really mad at that lady, huh?" and he smiled. And I knew then... he knows we've got his back. We've taught him that ignorance is out there, but we've taught him that we will do our best to stand up to it, to stand behind him.