Monday, February 1, 2010

Who's Off Base?

My two older daughters play high school basketball. After the games were over Friday evening, the younger of the two told me that the boys in the student section of the bleachers (this was an away game) were awful and that they were yelling at her, calling out her name and referring to her as Mulan and Pocahontas. My daughter is Asian (S. Korean), but she is neither Chinese nor Native American. She was obviously upset by their behavior and name-calling and my mommy-feathers were immediately ruffled. I told her that if people ever did things like that in the future, she needed to let me or her coach know immediately, not at the end of the game when everyone was gone.

Later, on the way home, my oldest daughter said something about the rude remarks made by the boys on the bleachers and I said, “Yes, your sister has already told me that they were yelling inappropriate things and referring to her as Mulan and Pocahontas.” Much to my surprise, my oldest daughter (who is very clear and proud of her Korean heritage) said, “Oh, well at least that’s sweet – Mulan and Pocahontas are both princesses.” I was shocked! To me, these comments were racially motivated and were intended to single my daughter out from the other girls on the team. Yet my oldest daughter obviously didn’t see them as racially inappropriate comments, even though she is very aware of racial issues, having grown up in a predominately white community. I began to wonder which of us was off-base… Were these inappropriate racial comments or was I just being extra-sensitive about a topic that can, with our transracial family, be an issue with which we do, occasionally, have to deal? I’ve thought about this a lot over the last two days and I think that we were both right. These were racial comments, they were inappropriate and they did disturb my middle daughter. However, I think my oldest daughter’s attitude was so wonderfully positive and appropriate –there’s sometimes nothing you can do about the idiots in the world who don’t know better than to single people out based on racial attributes – and I’m glad that my oldest daughter could look at them and, instead of feeling anger, hurt or hatred, turn their comments around and call her sister a princess – which she is!


Kim H. said...

What a great perspective! I will remember this when, not if, this happens to Kora. And I agree, they are princesses because you are the Queen!!

helen said...

Those boys were using name calling as a way to help their high school team. That tactic is as old as language. Name calling is a cheap shot but it often works.Niki reminded us all that it only works if we react to name calling. I am glad your princesses and princes are able to talk about their joys and sorrows and get a full perspective. With the mental image of a princess those taunts will never work again. Well played Dunhams

Carrie said...

This post gave me goose bumps! I have so much yet to learn!