Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Ballad Of Brown Kyle

My son is really starting to notice how different people can be.

This is both good..... and bad.

A while back, we were sitting around eating dinner, and I asked him how his day at nursery school went.

“It was fun. I played on the slide today”
“That’s nice. Who did you play with?”
“Kira, Max…. oh yeah, and Brown Kyle”

I pretty much projectile launched the food in my mouth across the room.

“What did you call him?”, I asked.
“Max… he’s my friend”
“No, the other one…”
“Oh, you mean Brown Kyle!”
“Joey! You CANNOT call someone that!”
“Why? It’s his name”
“HIS NAME IS NOT BROWN KYLE! That’s not very nice. From now on, you need to just call him Kyle.”
“But that’s not his name. If I call him Kyle, everyone is going to think I mean the white one”
“White one?”
“Yeah, there used to only be one 'Kyle' in our class, but then another Kyle started school, and we started all getting confused, so we started calling the new Kyle ‘Brown Kyle’ because he’s really dark”
“Some people call the first Kyle ‘White Kyle’, but I like it the other way.”

As this conversation went on, I got more and more freaked out. I started getting nightmare visions of getting a call from the principal asking me why I was raising a junior member of the White Supremacists.

Well, we got it all straightened out in the end. I explained to him that it’s not nice to call people different names based on their skin color, and I’m pretty sure he got it. He seemed to honestly feel bad that he was doing something wrong.

And he’s not, really. For him, there was no prejudice involved. He’s just saying what he sees.
But as I went to bed that night, I imagined what his classroom could have slowly turned into if all the kids had continued rationalizing differences between themselves in this vein….

“Hey everybody, here comes Brown Kyle!”
“Hi Brown Kyle! Where have you been?”
“Oh, I was just hanging out with Chink George. He’s so funny!”
“Hey, did you get invited to Spic Mike’s birthday party?”
“Yup. I hear he invited everyone except Sally the Jew”

And on and on and on….

Anyway, I thought we had the issue licked….

…. until we went to the bank last week.

While I was doing my business there (that sounds like I pooped on the floor or something. I’m pretty sure I didn’t), one of the other tellers, a nice older African American woman, was joking around with him.

As we were leaving, my son turned around, and yells across the bank for all to hear…

“Bye Bye, Brown lady!”

This is going to be harder than I thought…..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post made me laugh the first time I read it and it's stuck with me throughout the years. I even brought it up tonight in conversation! So glad I found it again - bobgirrl