We had an encounter that took us very much by surprise the other day.
Rusty and I took the kids to Chic-Fil-A for lunch.
We sat outside so they could play in the play area.
Emma and Jax...well, if you know them, you know they never meet a stranger.
They routinely see other kids and Emma will say "Hi, my name is Emma. What's your name? You want to be my friend?"
Sometimes they do, and they will start playing together like they've known each other their whole lives.
So Emma and Jax made a quick friend with another little boy. They sat at their own table with him, and chatted it up about how old they all were (he was five, like Jax, which makes them instantly bonded!) and kids' meal toys, where they go to school, etc. This kid was there with his young-looking Grandma, and she didn't seem to mind.
Rusty and I had Justus and Treston at our table with us.
(Let me remind people who don't know us personally, Emma and Jax are white, and Justus and Treston are brown.)
So the kids all ate at super speed and hit the play area again. Justus, Emma, Jax, and their new friend disappeared up in those tubes where we couldn't really see them, while Treston grazed on the rest of everyone's food, of course.
After a while, Emma came down and just stood by our table for a few minutes, looking sad. She finally told us this:
"That little boy said that he doesn't like brown people, and he won't play with Justus."
We were both stunned. We didn't know what to say.
Then the boys came out, and reported that this little boy was pushing Justus out, pulling his hair, and saying racist remarks.
Emma tried to enlighten him with the history of social injustice for black people, back to slave times, and how unfair and wrong that was.
He was unmoved, I think.
Jax put Justus in a brother head-lock hug and told the kid he was his "bestest brother ever."
That was just cute.
But Rusty and I were frozen.
We were both looking at each other, boiling over with anger.
Justus came down with hurt feelings and declared "That boy be mean, but I not be mean." I would think, of all my kids, Justus would dish it back out, but for some reason he did not. He was sad.
Rusty and I were shaking, and speechless for a moment.
We were both surprised at HOW furious we both felt in the moment.
And then we started gathering up our kids and food to leave.
I had to say something to the Grandmother. I could have knocked someone out at that point, I was so upset, but instead, I calmly went to her and explained what her grandson had said and did and told her that was not okay!
She also gathered him up and left immediately, with no apology to Justus.
I guess it's not surprising that we would face this eventually.
Up to this point, the racism we have encountered has been much more subtle, and the worst of it has been ugly stares, or pointed, awkward questions.
But this couldn't have been more overt, and what surprised me the most was that my kids faced it, not us.
I realized how very unprepared we were! My kids did not know how to handle this, or what to say! We hadn't prepared them.
Our emotions took over. We're regular white people- we've never faced overt discrimination. It didn't feel good.
We certainly hadn't prepared Justus. I hope that will not be a day he tucks away in his mind forever.
But it was an opportunity, once we got in the car, to remind all of our kids how lost people think. Their minds are dark and confused without the Lord. We need to pray for people who are raising their kids to be mini-KKK members on the playground.
As much as I wanted Jax to drop-kick that kid, it wasn't his fault.
He had clearly been trained in this way.
It was a sad and yucky feeling. My mothering instinct was to kick some butt, and then wrap my children up and protect them from that junk.
But that's not reality.
I hope we are better prepared- all of us, next time, if there must be a next time. I realize we need to be talking a little more in our family about what others will sometimes see when they look at our family, and how to answer them about what God thinks of people and family.
Lord, help me love redneck racists! I can't do it on my own!