Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Shocked to the core

A couple of weeks ago, when we were out as a family something happened that I fear has changed my children's view of the world forever and as this chain of events unfolds I become more shocked and sickened by the attitudes of the people around us who have been masquerading as our friends.

It started out as a regular Sunday but as soon as we arrived at the boot sale my husband was being trailed by a gang of teenagers who were hurling racial abuse and insults at him. Being Chinese, this is something that he has had to deal with since he was a child. He is 'expected' to take it on the chin, rise above it, laugh it off. For him, this is a fact of life.

In the car on the way home came shock number two as six year old FunnyGirl said....
"Mummy, I've just realised that when my friends at school sing those horrible songs about me being Chinese and pull their eyes, that they are being really mean to me - just like those boys were being to daddy - and I don't like it."

It transpires that the main culprits are two of her 'best' friends and as I would class their mums as my good friends I saw no issue in speaking to them about it.
Mum 1. Perfect response. We spoke about it, she spoke to her daughter. She explained to her that things you say can be hurtful to people, even if you aren't trying to be mean and she asked me to let her know straight away if it happened again.
She handled the situation respectfully.

Mum 2. Took what I said to her as a personal attack - which was far from the truth. I explained that I didn't want my children to be ashamed of their Chinese heritage.
"But they are beautiful, stunning children - why would they be?" she replied.
Beauty it seems is only skin deep as I was then told that it is perhaps a good thing that they get used to this now...... if they are going to have to deal with it for the rest of their lives.
Children are not born racists. They take on the attitudes and views of the people close to them who mold and shape them. And it was at that moment that I realised how little you actually know the people you call friends.

For the first time, I have questioned if having mixed race children was a selfish decision and that makes me really angry with myself. Our family was created out of love and race or colour was never once mentioned yet it seems that my beautiful children will be defined by it forever.

I know that the six year old girls involved didn't say those things in the same deliberate manner as the teenage boys but it all starts somewhere.
"We can't change the world.." the mum said.
Tell that to Nelson Mandella.

After reading all of the comments to this post I would like to thank every one of you for your support. I needed it today. FACT.
I have an appointment with the teachers at school in the morning - and I will update you to their reaction..... because did you know??? Our school has a zero tolerance to bullying policy.

In addition to this please read this amazing, sad, angry, thought provoking post from my husband.


  1. Sickening. No excuse for it and that second mother is way out of line. I people don't talk to their children about race and discrimination then this behaviour creeps in from other sources. I'm so sorry to hear this. xx

  2. Don't ever ever ever having the children you have.
    They are what they are and clearly have a blessed upbringing from level-headed parents.
    You say it perfectly "Our family was created out of love" - don't question yourself when it's the actions of others which should be questioned.

  3. You're right, that's a sad story all around. What a nasty way for your children to learn about this side of life.

    We are fortunate to have close friends who are Sri Lankan, Chinese, Indian, Native American and Black. I say 'fortunate' as if this is an exception to the rule because in our corner of Essex it is an exception. That means my children have grown up knowing how to treat people who look different to them (i.e. no differently).

    I haven't witnessed any racism towards them and they never tell me about it, but perhaps thats because they just take it, and dont let it bother them, as your husband does.

    One day in class my 12 yo was getting sick of other girls singing some song about 'slanty eyed people' and slanting their eyes. She told them to stop as it wasn't very nice. They told her to stop being a goody two shoes as it didnt matter because there were no Chinese people around. She said it did matter because you just shouldnt do it. They got really cross with her and bullied her the rest of the day, but haven't mentioned it since.

    If this had become any bigger I would have spoken to the school. I think my daughter handled it well, she didnt back down and from their reactions I think she made them feel bad about it. They'll think twice next time--even if no one 'who looks different'is around.

  4. This broke my heart, I genuinely have no respect for parents who can't or won't teach their children respect for all and every culture they might come into contact with. It's the very reason that the BNP are making gains with their membership.

    I'm so sorry that your girlie has already had to face this but I am reassured that with loving parents she'll be able to respond with love and compassion. The poor wee mite :( x

  5. I'm glad that you wish to show your children their heritage I think it's important living Britain today to understand what a multi-cultured society we live in.
    Unfortunately I do believe that comments like these come from the parents, I know a bloke who is half Chinese half White and he suffers racism from his own family who call him Banana Boy(yellow on outside white in the middle)now he's got his own children he doesn't visit his family which is a real shame.
    It's a horrid thing to learn so early about racism but I hope that the change in behaviour from her more enlightened Mummy & friend will show her hope in the world & that things can be changed if you talk about them.

  6. Awful awful awful. And to be honest I think the racism dressed up as "well that's just the way life is" is almost as bad as the really overtly nasty stuff. It's when people think it's acceptable to act like that, to think like that, when it's so ingrained into their attitudes that they don't even question it.

    It scares me quite frankly.

    Big kisses to your beautiful family.

  7. What an utterly dreadful example that mother is setting her children - so just cos other people spout crass racist language and we can't stop them, then its OK for her and hers to do so!!!
    Words fail me as I bet they failed you.
    Stay strong in the belief that your children are beautiful AND thoughtful and that as you say they were created from love.
    Hope that FunnyGirl hasn't had her view of life trampled on too much by the experience.
    Hugs xxx

  8. That's really upset me for you, for your family, for anyone else facing those attitudes.
    I'm sorry your children were faced with that behaviour at the boot sale and that your daughter has realised the meaning behind the song. Nothing more painful than our children hurting :0(

    Take care. x

  9. "We can't change the world.." the mum said.

    Perhaps, but we can make it a better place if you choose to broaden your mind, and this starts at home by teaching your own children how to value others and their differences, whatever they may be.

    Shame on her.

    LCM x

  10. I always live in hope that racism will die out with each new generation, it's terribly sad that it's not happening. My friend's husband is Chinese so her children are mixed-race like yours. They've never had any problems yet, maybe it depends where you live and the tolerance of those around you? Not a nice comment to hear from a friend of yours. Complicated issues for your children to grasp but you'll no doubt guide them through it.

  11. wow,
    Thank you for your comments.
    I am so angry at my EX friends response. It totally floored me.
    I know that little Betty is made of strong stuff and that she has it in her to stand up for herself.
    I think that she has a lot to teach me.

  12. This reallt upsets me, behaviour breeds behaviour and they have to have go it from somewhere espeically at six. Yes e can change the world, we can teachj our children that they can make a difference and respect every one else for their uniqueness. So small minded. I am trying to riase my boys to be better. Maxi has a black child in his year and mini pointed at her daddy the otherday and said wow isnt he big (6 foot 7) not isnt he black. We can all make a difference and try and teach out children the best way of dealing with people.

  13. This actually made me cry. I find it so frustrating that people can't see that children are not born racist - we make them that way.

    Children don't naturally notice these "differences" any more than they notice different eye colours or hair colours.

    How telling is it that your little girl didn't even realise her friends were being mean?

    Parents have to start taking responsibility for their children. Please!

  14. Deeply shocking. So sorry that your "friend" has been uncovered like this and that your children have had to learn about this. We had a nasty incident at school last week where someone taunted another child about their parents being German and that they were Nazis. How do they know about these things?

    It was Chinese week at my son's school just before half term and we all received letters home about them dressing up for the day. We were asked to 'dress them sensitively'. I was a bit shocked that they felt that they even needed to point that out. It is a massively multi cultural school. Do you think it needed to be spelt out? If there are attitudes like your ex friends around, then maybe sadly so.

  15. That is a disgrace. Children learn from their parents and the world around them, if we teach them right from wrong and that everyone is different not from colour or race but just individual and special in their own way. I hate racism, violence, etc. I was on a helping your child to succeed course this morning and I was asking the course runners there if they ever get the careers who actually need the help in raising their children to come to these types of courses, and they said no. So sad, we could make a huge difference. Excellent but sad post. x

  16. The response of the 2nd mother is terrible - children pick up on what is appropriate behaviour from the adults in their lives and we have a responsibility to not teach them to do things that are hurtful to others

    Yes by our parenting we can change the world

  17. I am so sorry this has happened. It makes me feel ill. I have heard so many reports of racism against children in the last few weeks, I am frankly, mortified on behald of the people being attacked.

  18. I agree that attitudes among children are attributable to their parents, who have the most influence over them while they are first learning about the world. I don't agree that children don't notice what makes each of them unique or different.

    My children have always gone to schools whose student body and staff are from several different ethnic groups.
    The school teaches about different religions and ethnic origins as part of the curriculum. My son has several children in his class who have the same name. If I ask him which child did something or invited him somewhere, he might say, "the one with the brown hands." The children talk about each other quite naturally..."he's Indian but he comes from Africa," or "his Mummy is English but his Daddy is Arabic." We live in a multi-cultural world, which is not colour-blind.

    I would rather that a child, whose background is different from ours, ask an innocent question or make a comment about us being Jewish, as it will give me or my kids the opportunity to teach them about respecting the differences in people. Far better than having them whisper uninformed, nasty sayings or songs behind children's backs. Perhaps your school needs to plan an event in which each child comes in dressed as their ancestors, to get a discussion going.

    I do understand that you feel betrayed by a friend and it is hurtful. Her remark was thoughtless. Sometimes even adults need to be taught a lesson.

  19. Oh Sian, that is appalling. Poor Funny Girl. Your ex-friend's excuse is shocking. Children learn racism from their parents or guardians. More than half a million adults voted BNP at the last election. This saddens me.
    Sending you all huge (((hugs))) x

  20. So sorry to read this. It makes me so sad for you, your family and society. Shame on her for reacting like that. Hugs. x

  21. Being both black and part Chinese, I've had too much experience of 'inappropriate' racist comments.

    That second mother is absolutely disgraceful and she is certainly no friend of yours. I feel like going round there and telling her all about herself!

    Part of a parents role is to teach their child values - this was her moment to step in and teach her child that what she had said and done was inappropriate and why. Instead, she's endorsing her child's behaviour AND having the effing cheek to tell you and your children to get used to it! I don't know what crack she's been smoking recently, but you don't need one of these 'casually racist' people in your crowd. You and your family don't need to be token anything - give that woman wide birth. Don't allow someone or other people's narrow-minded attitudes to question your family's heritage. You will get through this and so will your family.
    I'm scared of my children encountering racism but I know that I will be and do everything to support and protect them. Sadly it's inevitable to experience racism - hopefully this will change one day. For now, remain proud and true to your family.

  22. It's difficult talking about racism because it does exist and it's not being addressed. I recently wrote a blog post about 2 childminders who gave me no concrete reason for stopping care of my daughter. I am not happy about the mockery and unfair treatment but I am happy it comes to the surface.

    Our children should be aware that there are two sides to a coin and that people can be nasty. I think as parents our task is to teach them how to handle awkward situations like this one. It's sad Sian but Funny Girl will grow up with strong character as opposed to those who are evidently not exposed enough to appreciate the richness of humanity.

  23. Dreadful, shocking and very worrying. My sister-in-law is Chinese and so I have the most beautiful niece but I fear for the sort of challenges she will be up against when racism is clearly still around. Chin up, you can tackle this one. Your children are blessed they have someone who can help them stuff like this. Hugs.

  24. It's terrible that racism goes on in this country. Unfortunately it still happens even in what we call the modern ages. My Brother In Law recently visited us, he's 30. He sat and played with my little boy of 3 and when he saw a coloured Happyland figurine he called his "Token". I was outraged that he could even think to say something like that and it just goes to show it's the people around the children who mould them, not the children themselves.

  25. Natalie,
    You are of course totally right (as usual). I have no place for her in my life - or for anyone like her.
    When the children came home this evening. I sat down and told them what she had said and they too were shocked by the actions of someone that they had seen as a friend.
    They united in a way that I have never seen before... Sonny proudly said "We have nothing to be ashamed of... but they do".
    And he is of course right.

  26. Gosh, it is disgusting what your family have to go through. Not acceptable at all. That ex friend seems a complete twit and I am glad you now know her true colours now. Your kids sound just great. Mich x

  27. I think what is particuarly shocking is that when you class people as friends and think you know them and don't realise they hold these sorts of attitudes.

    You are so right to class this mother as an ex-friend with attitudes like that. Your children don't need to be around that sort of influence. I just hope my nephew (my SIL is Chinese) doesn't encounter this sort of thing when he gets older, it makes me so sad.

  28. It is so disturbing that this still goes on. You did 100% the right thing and they are so lucky to have a mum like you. My hubby is Iranian/Persian and I do worry about BB growing up and getting abuse too. It would kill me. AT the moment she looks like me with blue eyes and blonde hair but it is very unlikely she will stay this way as hubby is very dark, skin and hair.

    Like you say you can excuse the children and tell them right from wrong but they do learn from their parents and guardians and so this woman needs to see how she is behaving will effect them.

    Lots of Love and Hugs to you and your gorgeous girls xxx

  29. Wow....I am so sorry that they're having to experience that. And that friend two was so stupid about it - I can't imagine acting that way! I hope that your girls come out of this stronger and more confident than ever before!

  30. Just read this and am utterly shocked that this even happened. I can't believe we live in such a ridiculous world sometimes, it's beyond me.
    If it offers any support at all, having met you personally - rise above - you are a wonderful lady and I only wish that this type of stupidity wasn't an issue.
    There are people in this world with very trivial minds and unfortunately they pass this on to their unexpecting children.

  31. Sian that is so awful. Somehow that Mum's reaction is even worse than the blatant racism of those teenagers. I'm so sorry you and your family have been hurt like this. It does make you look at the world differently doesn't it? I don't know what else to say. Take care.

  32. All these comments - I have nothing constructive to add but it has really saddened me that your friend feels the way she does.

    ((( hugs ))) to you all x

  33. I'd just like to clarify my earlier post saying that children don't notice - I am talking about very young children 2 or 3 years of age max. rather then 7, 8, 9 or 10. I am talking about the age where they just see things as they are.....before they are really tainted by the age we live in.

  34. That's horrible, Sian. I know it sounds cold but your it is good you spoke to your (ex)friend about the situation. Her reaction and her response are very telling. Better to cut her out of your lives now than later.

    My kids are a beautiful melting pot of Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, Italian, Irish and German. My boys are more olive-skinned, favoring their Filipino, Italian, and Spanish heritages. My daughter is fair like my husband. When my oldest, now 11, was 7, his "best buddies" told him they couldn't figure out what he was and that his skin was the color of trash. I didn't whether to cry or scream. His whole life, up to that point, he knew no color differences between my husband and his side of the family and me and my side. I was used to getting the slurs and the insults. Now, he was being targeted. His question to me was heartbreaking: "Am I the color of trash because of you?" I talked to those offending kids' parents whose reactions ranged from I'm sorry, I'll talk to him to Are you sure your son heard it right? My Xmas card list got shorter after those conversations. Next step was the school: the teacher and the principal. Both said boys will be boys, your son heard it wrong, they were just joking. WTF? After some choice words on my part and lengthy lecture to them about racism, prejudice, and tolerance, I pulled my son out of that school. We are now in a better place.

    Don't be afraid to confront the situation. And yes, sometimes we do have to fight back. Our kids learn from us. My husband and I are proud to call ourselves "mutts". As a result my kids are proud of their heritage. We make it a point to teach them about every aspect of their background, from foods to traditions. They don't see people for their color or race. They see people for who they are inside. They appreciate people for their differences realizing that these differences are what makes them who they are.

    Sorry for the long post, but this subject hits very close to home...

    You have a beautiful family, and not just on the outside. You and Yan are doing a great job with your kids. Stand firm in your beliefs.

  35. Unbelievable, and so shocking. As you rightly say, how are children to learn any better if they don't have adults to teach them what is right and what is wrong.

  36. Hope you, hubby and the kids are ok.
    It's a cruel world :(

  37. I'm sorry, but I need to chip in her.

    While yes, the song taken in its crudest form is essentially racist, but sung by an innocent 5 year old this seems somewhat out of context.

    In terms of learned 'perceived' racist behaviour from parents - do you really think that Mum2 taught her daughter this song?

    Yes, the song may have upset your daughter and you were right to mention this to Mum2 but I think you are wrong to think there was malice or racist undertones. Should we really have to teach 5 year olds about racism so soon in their lives?? I agree that they should be told not to do something if it hurts someone feelings. However, I think this may have been blown somewhat out of proportion and that Mum2's reaction has been mkisconstrewed as indifference where by in fact it is in defence of here daughter. As were your actions.

  38. Dear Anonymous.

    If you feel strongly enough to post a comment then why are you not prepared to reveal your identity. How dare you say the song in it's crudest form is "essentially racist." Are you Chinese or Japanese? If not don't you dare speak for us and tell us what we find racist or not.

    As for the teaching kids about racism, I think its the kids copying their parents racism which is the cause of the problems. Kids aren't born racists. They get along with each other.

    I am happy to have discuss your points in more depth but not when you don't have the guts to reveal yourself, or are you mum 2? I really hope you are posting this to stir up a debate because if you really feel like this then, for the sake of your children I hope they are never picked on because of race, age, sex, height, weight etc.... Its all the same.

  39. Anonymous,
    She said it was actually her father who taught her the song.
    I didn't suggest that the children were singing the song with racial undertones. Children are not born as racists or bullies - they get their early views from their parents and those around them.
    'Innocent' childhood songs and jibes... slanty eyes, chinky girl, fatty, paki, gollywog are just the starting point. They are meant as spiteful, negative comments to hurt and as parents is is our DUTY to teach our children that is simply unacceptable to single people out for any reason at all.

    NO, we shouldn't have to teach our children about racism aged 5 and my daughter worked it out all by herself after seeing her father humiliated in such a shocking way.
    She shouldn't have had to witness that, he shouldn't have been subjected to that and she shouldn't have had to work out aged 6 that she was being taunted by others because of her heritage.

  40. That's just awful, no child should learn that that kind of behaviour is acceptable. Good for you for taking it to the school if it's ignored children never learn it's wrong. I'm just sorry you're having to deal with this kind of crap at all. Much love xx

  41. Anonymous, if I'm reading your comment correctly, you're suggesting that there's an appropriate context for racism. A racist song is a racist song irrespective of who his singing it - if a five year old called me a n*gger, it's not like I'd think 'Oh how cute!' It's not like the song "may" have upset - it *did* upset. I can only assume that you're leading a charmed life never having experienced racism or any 'ism' because you clearly have no idea how inappropriate your comment is. You're actually attempting to invalidate how someone feels about the fact that they've had racist songs and racist comments said by saying it's been blown out of proportion. I personally don't know of any parent black, white, purple or whatever that would defend their child saying something racist *whatever* the context because the people I know are keen to instill values in their children *whatever* the age. It's perfectly fine for her to defend her child - it's parental instinct but condoning racism and telling Sian that the kids should get used to it - her 'friend' needs to go and take a run and jump. You try and spend one minute experiencing racism or watching your child suffer insecurity as a result of it, and then tell me if you still want defend the racism.

  42. I have to say, much as I dislike the way Anonymous chose not to reveal their identity, I do think it sounds like indifference from mum 2, rather than deliberate racism.

    Of course, that's just as wrong, as casual racism is still perpetrated that way, but maybe the answer is not to make her an ex friend but to explain to her why her comments hurt you, Sian.

    It is my experience that people who make such thoughtless comments rarely do so maliciously, but mostly because of ignorance.

  43. Shocking comment by anonymous up there. 'Blown out of proportion'? Hardly. Sian did exactly the right thing by bringing it up with her mother, because these behaviours start at home. So when is it appropriate to deal with it? When they're throwing things at people different than they are? Hitting them? Stabbing them? Refusing to hire them/rent them a flat?

    This is exactly where and when it starts. And where it needs to stop.

  44. It is not 'blowing it out of proportion' to be intolerant of racism and discrimination. By suggesting that it is, you not only rubbish the reality of racism but you diminish the feelings of a little girl.

    Yes, children pick up on differences and it is our job as parents to teach them that discrimination based on appearence or gender is unacceptable in every form.

    You can try to justify it as much as you like but you may as well be saying night is day because you are so very wrong.

  45. Just so sorry that you and your family have to deal with this x

  46. People need to take responsibility for what they say, it is not about how a comment is intended it is about how it is recieved and if someone is hurt by something that is said it is no excuse to then say, "oh I didn't mean to offend you" that is no defence at all. Racism in any form, intended or not is unacceptable and this is what we should be teaching our children.

  47. Honestly, I'm amazed by your post. It's so easy to think this kind of ignorance has gone the way of the dinosaurs. How horrible for your daughter.

    I think it's hard to call a five-year-old racist because they don't understand the context or impact of what they're saying. But they have heard those songs and gestures from parents who should know better and who have a responsibility to teach their children better.

  48. Out of the mouths of is easy to think that this type of situation has changed.

    So sorry this has happened. It indeed does break your heart the first and subsequent times.

    Children do see colour and we all do. I maynot however be how we define people and there is a subtle difference there. Colour and race do make you stand out and be different.

    We have a mixed raced family.
    I'm glad you're going to the school. Talking helps a lot. But getting everyone to talk is the difficulty. Everyone is colourblind but there are still massive inequalities. how can you address the inequalities without talking about race/colour? I dunno.

    It's times like these your family draws closer together and you learn resilence.

  49. What a bizarre attitude by the second mother that your kids should 'just get used to it' Good for you for going to the school about this and hopefully your kids won't have to go through this kind of teasing again

  50. Hi, I found this post through BMB. I can't really add anything new to what's been said already but just wanted to show my support.

    I'm so sorry your family is having to deal with this sort of rubbish. And as for being told that your daughter may as well just get used to it? Well that makes me really angry on your behalf. Racism and prejudice doesn't have to be the 'way of the world.' We can do something about it, and like lots of other people have said, that something starts at home.

    Take care - you're doing the right thing.

  51. Hi Sian,

    My comment about growing up being called a "coon" and a "pakki" was getting longer and longer, so I gave in and blogged about it here instead: href=

    xx janis

  52. Just shocking! ((Hugs))

    Prejudice is learned behaviour and it's up to us as parents to teach our children to love and embrace the great big melting pot that is the human race not to hate and fear it.

    I'm a redhead, so to some extent I can understand how it feels to be picked on for being different. Even now, as a woman in my 30's people feel it is OK to make jokes about my hair/pale skin/freckles, often highly inappropriate ones, yet if I am offended then it is I who has the problem.

    At school I was told to just put up with it, and just as I shouldn't have had to, neither should your children.



  53. Wow - I cannot believe that happened. I also feel slightly ashamed as so far it has not occurred to me to talk to my girls about racism / bullying etc - my eldest will start school in September.

    I was watching CBeebies with her yesterday and she said that one of the children on the TV looked like one of her friends at preschool - one was black and one was white. I hope that is a good sign.

    Best of luck with the teachers.

  54. You should never question if you should have had your children. After all they are much better looking than the average so tell yourself that you've done the human race a favour!

    Not sure how we got onto the topic but one of my boys asked what I thought if he were to marry a 'black person' I said I'd be delighted 'we could do with a bit of variety in our rather pale and uninteresting family...

    More seriously, I believe that your own children will grow up in a less racist world than your husband did, thank goodness.

  55. What?!!!! I can't believe what the parent says. It's always the casual racism which I find the worst. The people who think they aren't racist. Just awful.

  56. It's just so terribly sad that we have to talk about this still. Racism is just not ever cool. It's completely unacceptable. Hope you get it sorted. We CAN change the world, if we give up that hope, what's the point doing anything about, well, anything!

  57. And I thought she was my friend too. I have never spoken to her since that day.


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Appreciated as always. xx


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