Preparing for the tough questions… or at least starting to. By Vicky Dal Molin
Well I certainly wasn’t expecting so much positive feedback that I received from my last post. I’m glad that those that read it and commented positively enjoyed the read. No pressure for this week or anything. And I can certainly assure those that raised it….. there’s no taking the Aussie out of this girl. I fully intend on maintaining and sharing with my son all the greatness that is being an Australian…. We’ve even taken The Wiggles lead and have worked out a way to integrate both “zed” and “zee” in our ABC’s! (yes he watches the Wiggles…. Yay to Sprout for showing the new series daily).
The one thing I didn’t comment in my last post was really where I sat on the issue – at least at this stage of exploring the topic. If I’d been asked before December 2011 I would say – “No way…. Not happening”. But of course life isn’t that cut and dry and now that I see my son growing up in this bi-racial family I realise that it’s extremely important to consider the values and belief systems you show to your children in the home – and to help them navigate through that. Easy said but maybe not so easy done.
Which leads me to one topic that came up again this past weekend (and frankly comes up more often than I really wish it would) is that of raising a bi-racial child through the NYC school system. Frankly I never really thought much about how to navigate race issues in schools. I moved to NYC when I was 29 so well past thinking about the schooling system as being far from relevant to me. So I’m not trying to raise a race debate here – I realise at this age there’s no winning either side there. But what I am talking about here are the challenges as a mum of raising a child, whether their parents are the same race or they are from a bi-racial family, in a school system that still makes race such a big issue. And if you think, like I used to, that this wasn’t such a big deal then I think like I was, you may be wearing a pair of rose coloured glasses.
Let me use the article that we saw on tonight’s news report as a good example of where race is still very much an issue in schools. Apparently some teachers in a Queens school told their forth grade students last week that Malcolm X, an African American activist that was assassinate was “violent” and “bad” and the students were prohibited from writing about him for Black History Month.
Ummm…. This is 2014 right? Are students really being restricted from writing about a relevant historical figure during a month dedicated to celebrating Black History? I have this to look forward to? Teachers placing their own race beliefs ahead of allowing children to experience either their own race as African Americans or explore another race. Well I have to say if it was my son that came home today I would tell him to write about Malcolm X anyway. After watching it and participating in a long discussion afterward I have to say I’m ready to pack up my bags come Kindergarten time and go back to the greener grasses of home.
When people ask me about Australia, what it was like being raised there – even when they are not asking specifically about race issues – I recount my time there as being laid back, that society was very multicultural and that I went to school with a diverse group – even in a country town. My best friend growing up was Australian/Sri Lankan, my other friends were from all around the world, Greece, Japan, Serbia and of course I was raised in a very Italian family. But that makes me start to wonder – was it really that diverse, and will my son avoid as many race issues back there? I’m not so naive to think that racism doesn’t exist back home, and I remember comments from time to time being of European decent, but it just seemed easier. My memories always positive about my childhood.
I’m sure there will be a time when my son starts asking me the tough questions and/or bringing these tough issues home…. I’m certainly not ready to answer them all right now. But I know that if I keep falling back on the values I learnt back home (all rose coloured glasses ones included) that it will be a good start.