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I went out after work on Wednesday and so didn’t see Dexter until Thursday morning.  My eldest son then reported that his little brother had been called a black N**** at school.

 

I will let that just sink in a little bit.

 

It took me a while to process what he had just told me.  After all, we are talking about nine year old children.  And here I was, discussing racism in school.

 

I don’t live in an inner city.  I live in a small Kent town.  A town that I was born in and that I have lived in for the last 42 years, and yet here we are, in 2013, where one child can call another child by that term and think nothing of it.

 

Dexter, bless him, I don’t think realised quite how derogatory that term was, as it was only when he saw the reaction of his older brother that he suddenly thought that it was a whole lot more serious than he first realised.

 

Of course, I immediately reported this incident to Dexter’s school and, to give them their dues, they rang me back within the hour and I had a long discussion with Dexter’s Heead of Year.

 

I had initially thought that it was a certain boy that had called Dexter this name and I think perhaps a little leeway had been given because this kid is from a troubled home, by both by myself and the school. However, this boy had already been spoken to you about his language and an assembly was going to be held today to discuss this very subject before I had even called to school.

 

I have since had a further discussion with Dexter and it transpires that it is another boy entirely. A boy that was considered to be Dexter’s friend. A boy that is supposedly from a ‘normal’ ‘decent’ family.

 

I will be speaking with the school again today. The headmaster has been informed and all correct procedures are being followed, but that didn’t help me get any sleep last night and I have woken up this morning more angry than ever.

 

Dexter is the sweetest, funniest boy you could ever wish to meet and to think that at nine years old he has already begun to realise that the colour of his skin differentiates himself from his peers is heartbreaking. To have that difference pointed out by someone else just makes me want to punch something.  HARD.

 

I don’t know whether this other kid picked up the N term from home, a music video, from the media or the playground.  All I know is that I am angry. I mean really angry. The colour of someone’s skin has never ever been of any relevance to me whatsoever. Perhaps I’m naive in thinking that we should be living in a world where it is irrelevant. And maybe this kid has just heard the word somewhere else and copied it. Either way it’s a sad day because someone has had the audacity to point out to my sweet nine-year-old son that his skin colour is an issue.

 

And so it begins.

 

 

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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.

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14 Comments

  1. Oh my heart goes out to you and Dexter. Quite a few of my friends (as adults, and their children) have experienced this and I know from talking to them how bloody awful it feels, and how difficult it is to cope with other’s people’s blatant ignorance. It is depressing that in 2013 we live in a society where racism is still so prevalent 🙁

  2. I’m so sorry to hear that you had to experience this from a kid who should’ve been raised better. But I’m not surprised. They hear stuff from their other friends, TV etc etc. I married an Englishman and our kids look like him. My daughter is actually very fair skinned and I dread the day one of her friends will point out that I am quite dark and (who knows?) use a derogatory language.

  3. So sorry and saddened to read this. Well done you for calling the school immediately and for how they handled it also. It is awful that in 2013 racism is so prevalent but talking him through this will help. You know how I feel having seen my Brit Camp documentary. Children need greater education and understanding about ethnicity and if it can’t come from their parents, it needs to come from school. You are doing a great job.
    Honest Mum recently posted..Summer Style Buys I’m Lusting OverMy Profile

  4. It is just crap, pure crap really. Kids learn this behavior from somewhere and therein lies the blame. There can be innocent comments – my daughter frequently complains of being ‘see-through’ and longs to be ‘brown’ like her friend, but terms such as n*** are degrading and it is rare to hear it in an innocent conversation.

    Racism makes me furious and as a friend of yours, Kate, I am gutted that Dexter had to experience this is our ‘enlighted’ society.

    *On a lighter note, I may have ‘overused’ these puppies ”””’ – I apologise for that*

    xxxx
    northernmum recently posted..How a skinful leads to Agadoo (More postcards from Portugal)My Profile

    1. Thanks Jane – I’ve deliberately kept the full truth of the comment away from Dexter tbh … he’s not ready for that. And, for the record, too many ””””s is better than too many !!!!!!!s! 🙂 x

  5. I would venture to say that it is the parents, not the child. My children both describe children of mixed or non-white race as “brown” when trying to describe a person to me. It’s not the only thing they mention, they will describe hair, height, temperament, tendency to wearing certain hats or coats, but they use the word brown. I’ve wondered whether to correct them, but come to the conclusion that in their minds they are being factual. The only reason they would use the words you have mentioned her, is if they had heard us use them to describe a person. The school needs to have those parents in sharpish, and face them down with the accusation of racism…
    Actually Mummy… recently posted..Are these gifts for Dad? Or are they ours? Review postMy Profile

    1. Thanks for commenting. The thing is, a kid calling another kid ‘brown’ is just them being literal. Calling a kid the N word is, you’re right, definitely learnt behaviour – now whether that’s via the parents or media, either way, it’s not on. I’m happy with the way the school have handled the situation so hopefully it won’t occur again but I’ve definitely got my ear to the ground now!

  6. A truly awful situation. I really do know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of racism. Unfortunately, people can present a very respectable front for their neighbours, work colleagues etc but in the comfort of their own home, ingrained prejudices tend to rear their ugly head and children are the first to pick up on this. A little education is needed to stamp this out once and for all.

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