If you’ve been following A Fresh Voice, then you know I write about my experiences being an African-American male a great deal.
It’s not that this is my sole focus. I don’t walk around with a chip on my shoulder proclaiming my “blackness.” I don’t have my fist in the air screaming “FIGHT THE POWER” at every white person who walks by. I’m not livid because “The man held me down!!” However, I am keenly aware that life is different for black people in some areas. No matter who tells me that’s not true, I know different. My experiences tell me so. Sometimes, those experiences are comical.
Especially when they involve kids.
This past Saturday, I went to see the Jungle Book. The group was chalked full of lively kids eager to watch the movie. The adults weren’t nearly as excited, but we wanted to see the re-creation of our childhood. Afterwards, we went to Wings and Rings for some food. The kids were sprightly to say the least. After a while, hunger had driven them to the point of annoyance. We didn’t want the kids to become hangry, so we tried to placate them as best as possible until the food arrived.
This made for quite the adventure.
Paper once used for coloring and hieroglyphics was ripped. Crayons were broken (and knifed). Hands were going into glasses. Bathroom trips were made. Silverware was being opened on several fronts. All of this from the four year old sitting next to me. He was just being a kid occupying his time by doing… well.. whatever would keep him occupied. The adults had conversation with the kids. Though it was chaotic, things were going well. Kids make everything interesting, and my little four-year-old friend was no exception.
I was sitting here talking to his dad when the four year old looks up at me and says, “Hey BROWN guy!!”with a burst of excitement.
This is the politically correct world. Calling a black person brown guy was grounds for offense. I, however, immediately chuckled. I mean it was honestly funny. I’m no stranger to a little kid calling me by his what they see. Whether it be tall, big, or brown, those are all my physical attributes. And they are the first thing people recognize about me. On top of that, kids don’t know anything about being PC. Especially a four year old. A child’s world is extremely black and white (no pun intended). They take what’s in front of them and keep moving. Thus, there was no need in being livid. No need to be mad or offended. This was a special opportunity.
This was a time to deconstruct race.
What a pivotal moment! Here’s why. I know this child’s world is filled with white people. That’s all he knows. Everyone that he associates with looks like him. I’m probably one of the few (if not the first) black people he’s ever encountered. So, he’s going to see my skin color. However, him seeing my skin color is void of the stereotypes. It doesn’t have the negative stigmas, fear, or hatred attached to it. This was a kid who held my hand to cross the street. This was a child who made sure to sit by me at the movies and dinner. This was a kid who hugged me and said he loved me.
This is the innocence of being a child.
After the shock of his comment wore off, I turned to him and said in a soft tone, “My name is Jarrod.” I can’t remember exactly what he said. I believe he excitedly went on with his story. However, I know my interactions had an impact on this kid. When he sees me again, he’s going to recognize I’m black. Even more so, he’s going to see that I love him and he loves me. How do I know? I asked him.
“Paxon. Do you love me?”
“Well, I love you.”
That’s all that needs to be said.