Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like racial misunderstanding

Ahhhh, springtime. The air is ripe with inappropriate racial remarks.

I sat down at Wednesday night Bible Study this week - which I just love because it's chock full of senior adults. One of them - we'll call her Miss L - is a hoot. She's the cool kid among the more elderly crowd. When she shows up, her posse is there right along with her. If she's not there, at least four other women stay home too. She is the leader of the popular chics over 80.

She's also sharp as a tack, and very out spoken. I take her with an entire box of Mortion's salt, because she has been on this earth a really, really, really long time and her ideas have been shaped by actual history - ya' know - cause she was THERE!

We're sitting there, and she makes a comment about my nose stud to one of the lesser popular "kids" in the group. I quip, "Miss L is just jealous, because she wants one. Thinks it would go great with her tattoo." Roars of laughter from the posse. Then ...

"Christine, those kids of yours ... I don't know how you do it."

"Oh, Miss L, God gives you what you need to be a parent."

"No, I mean how do you pick 'em so pretty? They're all just so beautiful!"

Note to self: she's talking about the black ones.

"They are all gorgeous, aren't they?"

Giving her the chance to opt out of the direction in which she is going, because I know this lady. I know where it's going. Bless her heart! But it's coming. Oh Lord, it's coming ...

"Well, aren't they the exception to their race in general?"

Oooooohhh, heavenly hooch! The posse, all of whom were kicking around well before MLK was speaking out, were all looking at me with just as much anticipation. They're seriously wondering how I got the only three pretty ones - ya' know - out of all of those other scruffy lookin' colored people.

And it's a moment where I choose humor. These women really are kind. They really do have love. They also don't have the tiniest clue that what they just said was in no way appropriate! In their eyes, this was perfectly acceptable conversation around the table at Wednesday night Bible Study. Or anywhere, for that matter.  So, I giggled and said ...

"Now, Miss L - I've yet to meet any child that isn't beautiful! Maybe they all just get better looking the more time they spend with me. Perhaps you all need to be hanging out with me a lot more often!"

Roars of laughter from the posse.

Note to readers: this is the same lady that saw me with all five kids at the park the week before and told me how worried she was about me ... five kids ... homeschooling ... "just like that lady that drowned all of her kids down in Texas!"

"You are so kind to be concerned. However, that lady was dealing with some severe post pardum psychosis."

"Well, YEAH, because she had five kids and was stuck at home with them all day!!"

Sometimes you have to make a joke. Sometimes you have to take the time to correct in love and do some educating. Sometimes you have to just say, "Oh, here comes a big dog. You and your little chihuahuas better get out of here! RUN!!"


Noah Bear said...

Christine, you took a very sensitive subject and handled it with humor. That's what I love about you!! I knew exactly what you were talking about, yet I found myself smiling throughout your whole post. I love how you handle things. Can you bottle that up and sell it?? 'Cuz you'd be rolling in the dough, honey. :-)

And, yeah, I've got the "pretty kids" comment, too. "Wow, it must be nice to just go in there and pick all the pretty ones".

My tact failed me at that one.

P.S. Where should I send the T-shirt? :-)

lana said...

Oh this sooo takes me back to childhood. Both sets of my grandparents lived in deep east Texas, which was kind of like still living in the 1950's deep South. The things I heard them say were shocking, but it didn't ever cross their minds how horrible it truly was. I grew up in a culturally diverse neighborhood and yes, most of the kids were black. It was "just terrible" according to my grandparents... I am so grateful for the expeiences I had growing up, especially in elementary school where we had such a diverse group... I was actually in the minority, a GREAT experience for a little white girl to have I must say!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Excelllent comeback! Perfect! Much better than trading insult for insult.

Shan said...

Wow, that posse leader sounds exactly like MY grandma. She'll be ninety this year but still is the young hip one. Bahha. Sometimes I'd like to say to her. "Why do you have to tell me the little girls you tutor are black when you are just talking about what you are teaching them?" I don't want my kids to hear people differentiated by color for no reason. But she doesn't realize a thing either. I'm glad you've found a way around it. I usually just want to run like my kids are the little chihuahuas I'm saving from the giant bite of judgement she's about to take out of someone. Oh dear.

Summer said...

Remind me to never introduce you to my uncle jerry. he's not no excuse being raised in the 60s. The man is the biggest feminist I ever met, but can he make some racist comments that will curl your hair.

You handled it beautifully. In your place I would have forgotten where I was and let my mouth take over.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I never never never would have handled it as well as you did. WELL DONE YOU!!!!

Amanda said...

Can I just say that story was unbelievable? haha.. can't everyone just be perfect like us? (haha...)

blondie said...

Remarkable! You handled yourself with so much poise. Kudos to you from one pastor's wife to another.

BTW, I am enjoying your blog.

Under there... said...

Perfect! This is perfect. I loved this. What a treasure your blogposts are.

Annie said...

Oh, I'd have smacked someone. I one time had to refrain myself from violence when a lil ol lady postulated that my babies mama was probably a crack ho' they all are. God somehow spoke through me and replied that maybe she was just lost and broken and needing her Savior. It certainly wasn't me