Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Racist Joke

I walked into Maddie's after school gymnastics room to pick her up, and overhead another child loudly telling a racist joke to another group of children and the coach.

As the girl started telling the joke it was getting more and more offensive. I shot a glare over to the coach that clearly said, "you should stop her..." and the very young coach didn't do anything. When the joke was over a few of the kids laughed. The coach gasped, and put her hand to her mouth in embarrassment, clearly not knowing how to handle the situation.

The girl (who I later learned was a 4th grader) said, "What? It's just a joke that my uncle told me!"

I don't think Maddie was paying attention to the girl (she was about 12 feet away and doing something else), but there were about 15 children in the room who did hear the joke. I was the only parent in the room, and I felt like I needed to say something.

So, I did.

While I don't recall my exact words, my tone was serious but calm. I said something along the lines of "that was inappropriate and unkind. Do not make fun of another group of people simply because they are from a different country or a different race. It was especially inappropriate of you because there are much younger children in the room. That was not funny, and it wasn't okay for your uncle to say that."

After I finished, the girl hung her head, the room was quiet, and we walked out. I then started to worry about possible repercussions for Madison. This girl is clearly older and commands the attention of everyone else. Maddie is with this girl every single day after school. I questioned whether or not I should have said anything ONLY because of that.

At the same time, I am proud that I was able to take a real life situation and model for Madison (and all the other children in the room) how you can stand up for other people, and why it was unacceptable for the girl to tell this "joke." I'm pretty sure Maddie understands, but am still worried about how that girl will treat her in the future.

When we got home, I told Zak what happened, and we discussed it with Maddie.

I think I would have regretted being silent. BUT I wonder if I would have had the same reaction if it was a group of teenagers or adults.

What would you do in a similar situation? (Maybe I was on hidden camera on that show with John Quinones?!)


Grandma Mary said...

You were right, but I would have just talked to my child about how out of line the joke was, then reported the situation to the authorities.

Dina said...

I totally would have said something too. You did the right thing! And the 4th grader won't mess with Madison, since she knows she has a mom that kicks butt!

Michelle and Jack said...

It takes a village to raise a child...and, you were clearly a member of the village that day! You modeled both courage AND integrity.