Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hey You Brown Lady!!

After having lived through the uncertainties of the job and housing market, we finally bought a house to call our home.  We decided to buy in a school district we thought would best serve our 2 boys and where we felt the community was quite diverse.  
My biggest concern about moving was  my older son who would be going from a very small private school into a school with 3 times the population.   For the past 4 years he had been in a school  based on a neo-humanistic* philosophy, where the children did meditation every morning and were  taught to love each other, their fellow human beings, the earth,  and everything on it. 
The same group of kids had been together since kindergarten and they truly had come to care for and love each other.   They had their differences and like other children they argued, yet if any one of them were to fall or get hurt, they would all come together and make sure their friend was all right.  It was an unlikely group, of the sort I hope my sons will have the privilege of knowing again.  I can only hope.
I had picked up my boys from their new school one day and we were heading to the car when I heard a boy’s voice call out, “Hey you brown lady!”   It came from the bus that had stopped near us, waiting to make a turn.  I looked to see if I could see who had noticed my beautiful tan but since the bus was rather full, it would have been difficult to pin point anyone.  I decided to keep on walking but those words resonated in my mind for the rest of the day.  
From his perspective, the boy was right.  Brown I am.  But why did he notice just my color?   How would it have been received, say,  by a black person, to be reminded of their color? Did this child live behind a massive white picket fence with no real contact with people of color or of different cultures?  What were his parents like?  More importantly,  I worried that this child, and others like him,  noticed that my sons was “brown” too.   How were my 2 boys received by the other “non-brown” children in the new school?  Would my boys face adversity and challenges in 2011 for being who they are?   Did the school not teach them about diversity and acceptance?  I spoke to the principal about the incidence just to make her aware of it.  In my desire to shield my children from hearing any further nonsense from this ignorant child on the bus, I had walked away without noting the bus number. 
I thought about what I would have said to this child if I had the chance to meet him?  I would tell him that yes, I am brown.   I am brown and could never be peach or olive or white,  even if I wanted to be.  But the irony is that many light-skinned people lay in the sweltering heat of a scorching sun, hoping to avoid deadly UV rays, just “to be” brown!  Since the school only went up to grade 5, I knew he couldn’t have been any more than ten years old. The logic of my argument would have been lost in his young mind.
 I truly would not have wanted to see him punished in any way.   How can you blame a child for having been sheltered?  A child’s ignorance shouldn’t be punished.   What that child needed was a first-hand education in culture, acceptance and loving.  Children, I believe, are much more open-minded, loving and accepting than adults if they are given the opportunity to socialize and mix with others.  Personally, I would have invited that boy to come to my house and play with my two boys. Maybe then he would find out what people on the other side of his picket fence are really like.  They  may be brown………. but they are beautiful……………once he got  to know them. 


……….by the implementation of Neo-Humanism, as put forth by P. R. Sarkar.  Simply stated, if extending the sweetest touch of the heart to include all humanity as one's own be termed Humanism, then expanding that embrace to include the animals, plants, and even the elements is termed Neo-Humanism. The fact that the fortunes of all are intimately wreathed together must be recognized, if not today, then surely tomorrow. (PSOLI website)