Monday, 8 November 2010

Racism once again..

I got married and I had three beautiful children, then one morning when our eldest child was nine years old things started to change. Something had entered our life that we as a family unit had no control over. Suddenly we had become 'the Chinese family'. I'm of white English heritage and my husband is Chinese. Born in the British territory of Hong Kong, he moved to the UK - as was his rite as a British citizen (he holds a UK passport having being born in the British Empire) when he was two years old.
When I met him and fell in love with him I didn't see a 'Chinese man'. I saw a beautiful soul full of passion and love and warmth. Someone who accepted me, nurtured, comforted me and loved me despite my many, many problems.
Of course I knew that he was Chinese but my point is that I didn't see that. 
Now I know that the reason that I din't see it is because I am not racist.
I don't see a person's colour, I see their heart and their soul and I am slowly but surely realising that this is not a universal human trait.
I blogged back in June about an incident involving FunnyGirl at school and despite their faultless zero tolerance attitude we once again find ourselves being singled out due to the behaviour of a few children.
I should be saying that I am very proud of the way that Sonny handled the situation last week. He calmly took the abuse and then reported it to a dinner lady. I told him that I was proud of him for rising above it when I really wanted to tell him that he should have smashed the little shites in the face.
I want to smash the little shites in the face. But I'm not allowed to do that because then I would be the one in the wrong.
Again I find myself in the situation of having to speak with parents that I class as friends and again it seems that I made another wrong friendship choice. After all - they have an Indian family next door and they are very good friends with them.
I know that I shouldn't make this about me - after all I'm not the one having to take the racism face on but I'm the one that has taken on the fight. Yan's had this for his whole life and he's kind of resigned to it. Why wouldn't he be after over 40 years of daily abuse? But for me it's something that has just landed right in the middle of my little world and blown it apart.
I don't get it. I just do not see why the fact that someone is Chinese, green, blue, black or two headed is something to be ridiculed. But what I do know is that my children are becoming tainted by the views of others and when it comes to who you are - that just isn't fair.
The positive side to this sorry tale is that we do feel supported by the school but we are also aware that they can only have so much influence. Children can be taught things at school but if they go home to parents teaching them to sing "Chinese, Japanese, what are these dirty knees (enter the name of any of my children) stinks" then where is the hope? 
I've always said that children are not born racist and whilst it could be argued that things are done in innocence or jest I have to point out that following the incidents in June a whole school assembly on racism plainly explained that it simply isn't acceptable to taunt, tease or single anyone out in life.
Clearly this subject is very close to my heart. I would love to hear from other people. Not just parents about their experiences with racism.
I didn't have the best childhood but I clearly didn't grow up with race issues. Is that a learnt behavior? Are parents to blame? What can I do to help my children to overcome this? 
All advice warmly welcomed. I need it. xx
Related posts: Shocked to the core


  1. Sian, that is awful. I sincerely hope it gets sorted out and my thoughts are with you and the family. Racism isn't acceptable in any form :o( xxx

  2. I'm sorry I can't offer any advice, but more a big cyber hug. Your children are a merit to you, stay strong and don't allow these people to make you feel bad. xx

  3. I hate to read things like this because it's the voice of ignorance coming out of those children's mouths.
    I've always tried to say to my son (who is nearly 8) imagine how you would feel if you were picked on/singled out/taunted. Imagine how that would make you feel.
    It breaks my heart that these parents are raising our next generation to be just as intolerant and ignorant as they clearly are.
    So so sorry you continue to endure this Sian. You have a beautiful family to be proud of, never forget that. x

  4. It's ignorance and fear, pure and simple, fear of something or someone who can be identified as different. I remember at junior school getting into huge amounts of trouble for walloping some child who called my sister a paki and made her cry. I didn't even know what a paki was - little village school in a little village, I just knew my sister had been called names. And that was just because she has darker skin than the rest of the family.

    I don't understand racism. I don't see a difference between ppl. Cultures, maybe, as different cultures have such very different practises and beliefs, but individuals within them vary hugely even then. My children are brought up to be understanding and tolerant and to look at ppl as ppl, regardless of colour, creed, name (according to the hymn I was brought up singing). I think all you can do is avoid the ppl who are utterly ignorant, and explain to your children that it is the others who are the ones to be pitied.

    Your children are so utterly beautiful, I wish they weren't having to go through this.

  5. I'm sure I commented last time, that I can't believe that this still happens. I haven't had to deal with racist bullying, but bullying all the same. My son is being bullied on the big playground at the moment. It's hard but I've stepped in and I took him out of school last week to make my point. I think it helped us.
    It really isn't acceptable that these bullies are getting away with it. I think you have every right to demand something be done about it, and even take advice from outside sources. My health visitor has been a great source of support.
    I really hope you get this resolved, thinking of you x

  6. i have 4 kids and they all suffered bullying for one thing or another, eldest is large so she got all the fatty things said and even got that i was fat, but 12 son has been called gay since year 5 and we found out at the weekend that he had stated on fb last week that he is gay, and the weird thing is that i havent seen him so happy in ages.

    I send you love and hugs to help your lovely child find their place and ignore the petty mindedness of other less knowledgeable children - and adults!

  7. Your obviously wonderful child acted with great dignity, as have you and the rest of your family. Racism stems from ignorance. Of course it is learnt and that in itself is really depressing. Lets hope the lessons learnt in schools and by your own children in their responses to these bullies will result in them rejecting the bigotted attitudes taught by their parents/relatives.

  8. I have no idea how you tackle this - not sure "head on" is the right way, but then neither is ignoring it. It's a sad situation and I'm sorry you are having to deal with it :(

  9. Having lived in South Africa for the first 28 years of my life I have witnessed racism up close and it is indeed awful.

    I have never personally been targeted by it, but have been affected by it as a surprised onlooker when people, who call themselves 'good upstanding Christian' folk and that I have considered friends, suddenly show their true colours. They say things about other people, sometimes mutual friends, that have my jaw hanging on the ground.

    As a rule I immediately distance, myself from such people as I do not need any extra negativity in my life. Often this is met with disbelief and horror from their side, especially when I tell them why I do not want contact with them.

    Three things;

    1) It is not something that just happens, I can honestly say that I blame the parents, be the antagoniser 13 or 33, there's always an underlying thread running in their family.

    2) I am proud to say that my son sees his mates at school only as boys or girls. He does not discriminate or judge and that is something that I will nourish and encourage so that it will always stay the norm. But even the fact that I write something like that makes me sad as this should never ever be a factor. You don't judge people, generally they do that far too well for themselves.

    3) While I am sad for Yan, he is a grown up and conquered many of his inner battles and come out the other side a better person for it. I am so sorry that your beautiful son has had to go through this, and that your gorgeous daughter has already had to learn that people can be cruel and evil when it's not been provoked. I cannot see why one person's child should be judged via a different criteria to another's child, surely all children are perfect ad should not be tainted in such an unjust way!

  10. I'm sorry your children have had to go through this. I've never been the subject of direct racisim, but because I don't look Jewish (but I am) I have had a lot of racist things said in front of me.

    To be honest any racist behavoir offends me and I've always make sure I let the offending person know what they've said isn't okay.

    All we can do is teach our children to treat everyone the same regardless of their race and to say something and speak up when someone says something that isn't right.

    The school can do more. Sure parents will teach children racism, but the school can teach them tolerance and not accept racism. If they truly have a no tolerance to racism policy those children should be punished.

  11. As someone of blended cultural heritage, I really do empathise. There is no single solution, just continuous building of up a child's self worth within the family. They need to know that they are unique and loved, even when people treat them badly. Ad infinitum. Hope that in the end they will rise above the level of their ignorant peers. It is very hard :(

  12. So sorry your family is having to go through this. I am in a loving relationship with a black man (I'm White) and we experience micro aggressions of racism every day (for example, I recently posted about being followed round a famous grocery store by security). What scares me more is that our 6 year old son is yet to understand what some ppl can be like .. he hasn't told us of any race related issues that have happened at school yet .. but I know it will happen one day soon. I send my warmest wishes to you and your family and I hope that by knowing you're not alone it gives you some comfort.

  13. I am so sorry you are dealing with this. My daughter is bi-racial and 7. Luckily, she hasn't been bullied... yet. However, I have absorbed some racism and snide comments. My husband is African-American and I am Italian-American ("caucasian"). My daughter is beautiful: dark skin, but has all of my facial-features, and very curly hair. Yet people still stare, ask me "is she yours or adopted", and kids say things to her like, "how is she your mom? She's white!" Well- although these issues are not bullying, I have taught her that these type of things are just a result of ignorance. I think it is important to explain to your children (or son) the meaning of ignorance and lack of culture many people have. I understand that it hurts and you just want to protect your kids. The best way to do that is to identify with them and explain why. Good luck.

  14. I'm so sorry that your children (and husband!) are being subjected to this type of behavior. While I haven't personally been the victim of racism, I worry about my son's future. His medical history has landed him with a much larger than average head, and the shape isn't as rounded as it should be.

    One of my constant worries is how much he will be judged when he enters the public realm, where I can no longer shelter or protect him from people who simply don't know better (or don't care what impact their words have.)

    It's one thing for an innocent four-year-old to point out the obvious.. 'Mommy, that man is fat. Daddy, that man has brown skin.' It's quite another to use taunts, teasing rhymes, and hurtful words. We try to hard to show our children how special and wonderful they are, and it really sucks that random strangers can knock them down so easily.


  15. I am sad that things like this happen, I don't thing there is anything wrong with people being described by where they come from, I am Portuguese and my husband is South African but I do think it's wrong to tease someone because of differences, no matter if its because someone is not English or because they have a big nose!

    I do think some parents might not know about it as kids in school influence each other too but if the parents don't think anything of it then its their doing!!!

    If I found out my son was bullying another child, depending on his age and understanding of course, he would be told off and explained that its not acceptable and makes the other person feel sad and left out... if he knew what he was doing it out of being just plain mean and enjoying it then he would be made to apologise personally and he would have lots of grounding and chores coming his way!!!!

    I think if you are on the receiving end family, and you have raised issue with said parents and they were full of crap then you should distance yourself from those people and educate your children to rise above it... and I think you are doing that :)

    Bullies are usually kids or people that suffer bullying themselves or are unhappy with themselves so put other people down to feel better.

    Lots of love & hugs to you and ur kids

    Monica xxx

  16. Thank you for all your positive comments. You are clearly all level headed people that I would be happy to call my friends.
    Ignorance is a scary thing - and as parents I really feel that it is our duty to teach our children right from wrong.
    They don't see colour, size or shape - they learn that from their influencers so if we say that 'Fat Chinese man' then that is something they pick up on.
    We are the only people that have the power to change the way our world is heading.

  17. So sorry that your family are going through this. It just makes no sense to me at all that people behave this way.

    Can you confront it head on, have Yan go to school at talk to the children about Hong Kong and about Chinese culture? Parents from different cultures (we are fortunate to have many) do this at our Preschool. Sometimes igonrance and fear can be stifled by education.

  18. So sorry you're little ones ever have to put up with any form of negativity hon. Children shouldn't ever be bullied in anyway about size, shape, colour or any other reason bless them and the bullies in my experience as a child are often led by other bullies. Its a learnt behaviour.
    If you are able I would speak to the parents as I think that the school can educate all they want but it's something that their parents can change. Schools are where children go to learn acedemicaly and about discipline but often that needs to be reinforced by the parents. A lot of kids only listen at home.
    I was bullied at school for having eczema and my own sister often used it as an insult during a fight and my parents absolutely would never pass comment on any persons appearance or colour, so she didn't learn it at home. When the school spoke to the bullies it often made things worse. On the occasions my Mum approached the parents of the offenders it seemed to help more. Some of them even went on in adult hood to become friends.
    I hope your littlies have a good tight network of their own friends as this will be they're support more so than a parent as they grow and experience this in other walks of life. Its always wrong and my heart breaks for them and you.
    I pray that as the world grows and merges more, our future generations eradicate any form of Racism or biggitory. xxx

  19. Geekmummy, thanks for your comment. My husband has been here in the UK since he was two. This is his culture. Not life in Hong Kong.

    Julsey10, I'm in the same camp when it comes to speaking to the kids at school. I don't think that helps at all. I was bullied when I was at school - for wanting to be a dancer of all things. I was pushed down a flight of stairs by some girls a lot older than me and because I told a teacher they jumped last class and waited for me. They then gave me a proper beating, breaking my nose and bruising my back so badly that I couldn't sit or walk.
    It is so the parents that are at fault here and yes it is about education. Some people it seems just don't want to be educated.

  20. Hate that you're having to deal with this again, it's just so completely pointless.
    I'm with you on the 'Why?!' why does someone's skin colour/religion/any other cultural diversity even matter?!

    It infuriates me, because like you say, kids are not born racist, so it must be coming down from their parents - and while I plan to make sure Dylan knows that making fun of someone who's 'different' (hate that word, aren't we ALL different?) just isn't on, how am I supposed to make sure he doesn't pick up bad habits at school, from kids who's parents aren't so sensible?

    Moving from Scotland to England at 15, I was always known as 'the girl with the funny accent', and had to learn to rise above the 'och aye the noo' jokes, but that must be small potatoes to what your kids are putting up with. Fair play to Sonny for being so cool, hopefully the bully will see he didn't get to him & get bored.

    Big hugs xxx

  21. Children can be so cruel but as you say its a learned behavior and its so sad that your children are having to deal with this at such a young age.

    I hope that with the support of the school and the common sense and respectful teaching of you two as parents they manage to rise above the taunts and nastiness.


  22. Sian this makes me furious on your behalf and on behalf of your beautiful children

    Racism isn't something inherent, its something that is taught. Bigger has recently noticed that some people are different from us (white, middle englanders) but its our response to this that is crucial, that we explain that God made people in all manner of different ways like he made flowers in all different colours. Not better, not wrong but different and equally beautiful.

    I really wish you weren't having to deal with the consequences of these ignorant people teaching their children this awful behaviour

  23. I agree that no child is born racist, children don't really see physical differences (in my experience) until they are old enough to have been influenced by societies norms.
    I have never experiences racism from any perspective, but having said that where I live and where I went to school was predominantly white. Then again, when I meet people from another race it doesn't really cross my mind that their race is any kind of issue, I make a judgement based on their personality as I would with anyone else.
    So my comment is entirely useless but it was a worrying post, I did think that these things had died out.

  24. I am a beliver in Behaviour breeds behaviour, so these children that are bullying and being racist have to have picked it up somewhere. It is very sad in this day and age that people feel this way.

  25. Livi, you are officially the kind of person I would like as a friend. Sadly this hasn't died out. I just wish more people had an attitude like yours.

  26. TheMadHouse,
    Thanks for your comment Jen. It is sad - but how do we as sensible people stop it?

  27. This is just awful. Children don't see race, they just see children. Those parents should be ashamed. (((HUGS))) x

  28. I feel so bad for you guys. The school should certainly be dealing with this situation now, calling in the parents and speaking to them and letting them know that this kind of abuse is not and never will be acceptable. It could be that there is some kind of hideous peer pressure at work here but really, it doesn't matter what the reason is; racism is unacceptable and it needs to be dealt with swiftly.

  29. I don't really have any useful advice for you but cannot believe that racism is still alive and kicking in this day and age! Although my daughter and I are both white when she was 5 we had a really bizarre racist thing happen to us. She really wanted a black baby for her birthday which I (being a good Mummy) went out and bought her! She loved that doll and initially we took it everywhere. One Saturday we were in the Town shopping and she had the baby in a pram with her and a Man stopped us in the shop and questioned 'why on earth doesn't she have a white baby???' and then proceeded to try and argue with me about it in front of an entire shop full of people!!! How I kept my patience with him and didn't punch him on the nose I will never know! Thankfully Chick didn't care what anyone thought and still continued to take it out!! Quite a crap lesson about life when you are only 5 though!! Apologies for super long comment when what I was going to say was Hugs to you and the family!! xx

  30. Liz,
    To be honest I do think that the school tackling this in the best way they can. There is only so much they can do if when a child returns home their parents are completely dismissive of the situation. It's not surprising when they have obviously learn this behaviour from them in the first place.
    They staged ANOTHER full school assembly about racism today but when I asked my guys to tell me about it it was quite clear that it had gone completely over their heads!
    The teacher pulled out a few kids to stand at the front of the room. Some had brown hair, some blonde etc. She then grouped them and gave the brown haired kids sweets.
    "Yeah", I said - so what then?
    "We were all peeved that the brown haired kids got sweets" said funny girl...
    So what does that teach you? I asked.... her answer was to put her hand up quicker in assembly so she'd have got the sweets - cause she has brown hair!
    Not quite hitting the nail on the head is it?

    Thanks for your comment. OMG - I can't believe that someone would say that. Perhaps we live in the same town?!

  31. I despair when I hear about incidents such as these. I mean really despair. It saddens me to realise that the cycle will not be broken if parents turn a blind eye to intolerance in all its forms. It will just be passed down and down, like a bad gene.
    The school, bless 'em, obviously try to highlight the issue but it sounds like on this occasion (with the assembly) they missed the point slightly.
    For several years there has been emphasis on social cohesion in schools. It doesn't seem to have had much impact. Now Ofsted are putting it on the back burner so systemic improvement isn't going to happen any time soon.
    I guess then it is down to parents even more. Don't you wish you could parent all the kids sometimes? I know I do. Best wishes for the future, Sian and clan. I hope you see an improvement in attitudes. Until then at least your children know they are better than their detractors. :-)

  32. Him Up North,
    Thanks for your comment. You are totally right - without parents realising that they are accountable nothing will ever change.
    That makes me very sad. x

  33. I was shocked to read your post - it's just awful to hear that stuff like this is still going on.

    I do hope the situation improves, Lucy x

  34. I feel so sorry that your poor children have to experience this, I although not looking it on the outside come from a mixed family, my father is half Arab(notfun in todays times) even though we have foreign names and my dad is darker in skin that was never pointed out to me, I have actually suffered more racism of sorts because my Mom is American, my aunt married a brazilan and her children find the same problems at school.
    Racism is totally learnt I hate to believe the world still has such sick people in it, I only wish I could take it away.
    Its nice to hear a school supporting you x


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


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