Judging a Book by its Cover

“That’s the White cul-de-sac,” he said, pointing left as we drove further into his middle-class neighborhood.

“What do you mean by that? What about the rest of the neighborhood?” I said.

“Only Whites live there. The rest of the neighborhood is mixed,” said Holden’s close friend, who is a Black teen.

“How do you feel about that?”

“Well, when I walk past the cu-de-sac to go play basketball they go into their houses. Every time! They’re so obvious. It’s pretty funny,” said Holden’s friend.

I didn’t find it funny. Only alarming and sad.

The boys cracked some jokes as we pulled into the driveway to drop off the friend, my happiness about spending a short time in the company of two wonderful boys had been diminished by cold hard facts.

As we left I asked Holden if he truly ever considered what his friend felt, what he lived with—the prejudice because of the color of his skin. He grew quiet and then responded that he hadn’t. Of course, Holden knew I was launching into a teachable moment. I went on to explain that his brother and sisters deal with this every day and always will. They are so young that they don’t fully understand the veiled prejudice they are experiencing, but as they grow older they will see it for what it is. People “judge a book by its cover.” 

To some extent, we are all guilty of it.

“That sucks, Mom,” he said.

I so agree with his admission. Discussions about race, racism and prejudice need to happen early and often. Take advantage of teachable moments.



Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, The International Mom

4 responses to “Judging a Book by its Cover

  1. Loved this post! Added it to our “Best of Parenting” round up at parentingsquad.com

  2. Karen Caswelch

    I am always happy when someone has a wake-up call like this…I try to share these situations, but most white people (sorry) look at this reaction as – there goes another black person thinking everything is about race. Forget the fact that I am multi-racial, and live and understand both worlds. Whenever I raise an issue such as Holden’s friend, I am ONLY black.

    • theinternationalmom

      Thanks for chiming in, Karen. This specific incident hit a raw nerve, and that’s why I wrote about it. My gut reactions stemmed from, I’m sure, parenting transracially adopted kids (and experiencing veiled and not-so-veiled prejudice more than I can count) and also about my concerns for this young man. You know me…I’ll always put the questions out there and of course I am given the gift of someone’s insight and perspective.

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