Monday, June 02, 2008

Still a long way to go...

Dear Neighborhood SAHD,

I must admit that I was really excited to realize that we both had little girls of close age, and that we were both at-home parents! This was a perfect way for Corinne to make friends that she could actually keep. Excellent, or so I thought...

However, after our meeting at the park today, I will confess that I am at a loss. I am unsure of how to approach a certain issue. An issue that I had assumed was on the downslide in our area. I had incorrectly assumed that all people understood that you just don't think of other people in a judgmental way. I had figured that by TODAY, you would keep your politically incorrect thoughts to yourself, and not impose them upon unsuspecting moms at a local park...
Readers, you tell me how I could have better handled this, and what I should do in the future:

Tracey: blah, blah, blah... it's too bad that the suburbs don't have better public transportation like buses.... blah, blah, blah... so that we can save money on gas and the environment... blah, blah, blah...

Neighborhood Dad: Well, you know, only Spics and Shiners use the CTA, so I gotta admit that we're not missing out on much.

Tracey: Blink. Blink.

Tracey: Um, first of all, what are "Shiners?"

ND: You know, dem black people. I mean, who wants 'em living in the neighborhood, right?

Tracey: (physically shocked at this point and feeling her mouth go dry...) Well, I don't agree, and I have no problem with anyone living next door to me. (this is paraphrased as the situation truly was unbelievable to me).

Ok, folks. I am, first of all, pissed that I didn't have a better response to his racism. To his blatant cruelty. To his ignorant conversation.

I wish I would have said something like "Wow. That is incredibly racist! I didn't know people still thought like that nowadays." But I was, honestly, shocked into near silence. I have no problem being offensive back, but that never solves anything. I truly think that showing the racist that you pity their ignorance and small minds will work better to prove the point. I really need to have an intelligent, direct response at the ready. I need to have it rehearsed for I will most definitely run into this father again. He lives only a few houses away and our daughters ARE the same age.

Which brings me to point #2: How do I decide to handle a potential friendship between our daughters? Truly, at their young ages, it is all up to the parents. We tell them who to play with and they do. End of story. But, before long, their personal preferences will arise and this little girl's close proximity to our home will surely play a part in Corinne choosing her for a friend.
I canNOT allow my children to play at a home where racism is not only thought, but is spoken at such a basic conversation level. If he was willing to drop derrogatory labels so quickly with someone he doesn't know very well, how free is he with it around his own kids? And how much of this is going to rub off on his girls? I am prematurely worrying over Corinne asking to spend the night at this girl's home, and the response I will have to give, which is "No."

I cut the park visit short and walked home feeling disappointed and disrespected. But mostly? I feel truly sad for his daughters, that they must grow up with such poison in their home.

Please, anyone that has tactfully and successfully handled a situation similar to this, any advice would be appreciated. I don't want to ignore the situation. That only makes it feel natural for him. I also cannot risk having a person who feels that way about people he doesn't know living across the street from me with hatred in his heart for my family.

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