Watching adults argue, insult each other, and be mean to each other is difficult, especially for the empathetic heart. Watching children be mean is doubly painful. It is painful because we know that the child learned his/her behavior at home and the parents and family are not able or willing to be an example of openness and understanding. We know that children are sponges of their environment and when we witness cruelty and bigotry we know that an adult showed them how to be that way. And now..... now, we have an adult in the highest leadership role our country allows, the presidency, who is personifying racism. #45.


A young teacher in my community, a small rural community of primarily white people told me a story yesterday. This is a story that made her cry and made me cry too when she told it to me. You see, in her school there iare only a few Black children, just a handful, in the whole school. She’s beautiful, smart and polite. She never causes trouble in the classroom. She’s 10. Yesterday a boy came up to her on the playground and told her she is, ‘an ugly, black, shriveled up mushroom’ and then ran off. This teacher overheard him and asked the girl about it.

“What did he just say to you?” The teacher asked.

“Nothing.” The little girl said.

“Come now, I know he said something because I heard it.” She told the girl.

“It was nothing.” The girl said again.

“Look, I want you to know that was he said was wrong. It is NEVER, ever ok for anyone to say that to you. Never. I want you to let me know when the kids are mean to you. I want to tell them that what they said is never ok. You do not have to put up with that.” The teacher told the little girl. “You are beautiful and smart and I love having you in my class. It wasn’t ok for him to say that to you.”

“It’s ok, I’m used to it.” The little girl said.

SHE’S 10! This little girl is ten years old and she said she is “used to it”. In 10 short years of living she has become accustomed to people insulting her because of the color of her skin. And many of us white people have become accustomed to ignoring that this happens, still, in 2017. A child has learned to live with racism. And we now have a president who perpetuates racism and stereotypes making it accpetable for people to say racist and hateful things- even to children. “Mexicans are rapists. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

hidden figures

We, white people, need to stop looking away, pretending we don’t hear it or see it. Racism is prevalent and so is white blindness, the lack of seeing the world from any other perspective but our own white eyes. You probably don’t think of yourself as a bigot but you may be blind and not aware of it. There is a scene in the movie Hidden Figures where Keven Costner’s character’s becomes acutely aware that he has been blind and oblivious. The women I watched the movie with all cried in that scene because I think for women we can relate just a little bit; men have overlooked us, insulted us and discriminated against us and many men were not even aware they were doing it until we started pointing it out to them. Women started having conversations with their husbands, fathers and brothers and the men started listening and encouraging. We need to have a similar conversation with Black people. AND we need to listen. Their story and experience is not the same as ours and we can’t assume we know or understand.


This is Black History Month.  I would like to ask my white family and friends to look for opportunities to inform themselves about Black people, in their community, in our country. Go to a museum. Read literature about Black people’s stories. Open a link about, Kenneth Montgomery, a Black man and his real life experience: The Painful Reality I Was Forced to Face As a Young Black Attorney in Brooklyn.  Have an open conversation with a Black person you know and listen, just listen to what they tell you. Just listen.


Deborah Baron

Deborah Baron

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