“Can you like people of another color?” Blitzen asked.
I turned to my go-to response for the many instances when I’m not quite sure what we’re talking about: “What do you think?”
“I think people of other colors can like each other. They just can’t marry each other.”
I start to get it. We just spent a week meeting lots of loved ones, all of whom were white. Those who are married married other white folks. “Hmmm. Interesting. We know some people who are different colors who married each other, right? Like D & V?”
I was eager for conversation. Blitzen was unconvinced but willing to concede the point and change subjects, probably hoping to sidestep listening to me say absurd things about issues around race.
I can’t blame the girl for tuning out the things I say about race. Her favorite way to access information is through visual observation. Here are a few of the things I suspect she notices.
1) Whenever we go somewhere fun or special — Sea World, holiday parties, airplane trips — nearly everyone is white.
2) When we introduce her to family, the people we love, they are all white. Other than Blitzen and her sisters, every single person in a framed photo in our home is white. None of the people we see sleeping in Marcus Garvey Park each day are white.
3) Blitzen’s school is 100% kids of color. It’s in a building with a school that is predominately white. The white kids have the first two floors; Blitzen and her friends walk to the fifth floor. The white kids have colorful walls, hands-on projects and lots of field trips. Blitzen and her friends have behavior sheets and kids being physically restrained in the halls.
The list could go on for a long time, and every point deserves a full post, if not a dissertation and protests in the streets. For now, I’m simply noticing Blitzen noticing that I’m not a reliable narrator when I merrily suggest that anyone can like and marry anyone they want to and that the race we’ve been assigned is not destiny.