And so it begins — the marathon stretch of birthday parties, graduation parties, long weekend parties, and just-because-its-summer parties. This weekend was no exception.
Except, this time, my husband, who usually doesn’t engage me in diversity conversations (knowing that we’ll talk about it for the next few hours) actually turned to me during a birthday party and said, “Why are we the only brown people here?”
“Because. We are,” was my witty response. “What do we want them to do about it?”
“I mean WHY are we the only brown people here? It’s not like there is a shortage of people of color in this area or anything. So, why, in a room full of about 50 people, are we – and our children – the only brown people here?” He began to go on about how the children at the birthday party were all of school age, ranging from 4 year olds to 6 year olds, and that if this was an actual “school” party (the kind where you have to invite everyone in your class), then why were we the only brown people in the room (note: our children don’t go to school with the children at the party – we know the parents from college).
“I don’t know, honey. Believe it or not, there are people who don’t know any people of color – at least not well enough to invite them to their kid’s birthday party.”
Husband wasn’t impressed. “I just don’t understand. I don’t understand how kids can be in school and not know any children of color.”
Needless to say, the party ended but the conversation didn’t.
I reminded Husband of all the posts I have written over the past few years, all of the questions very well-meaning white parents write about how to engage in diversity, and all the frustrations people have about truly not having a diverse circle. Husband wasn’t implying that the people at the party were racists nor that they were ignorant. Not at all.
Rather, the point he was making was this: How can we truly teach our children to accept others if the “others” are never in the room. How can we teach children to see the beauty in our diverse skin colors if there is only one color in the room? Religion? Regional accents? Hair texture? Language?
And, while this question often gets posed, it’s worth bringing it back again — can we truly learn to accept all people if we only meet one type of person?