“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.