Life’s Musings

    I am out taking an evening stroll with my husband and our son. We pass by a group of preteen girls at the local playground. They suddenly start singing. I can tell from the tone of their voices that whatever they are chanting about is not pleasant. It sounds sarcastic and mocking. We keep walking. Their chants go a notch higher. My husband stops, turns back and shoots a question at them. I stand aside, lost in my thoughts. As we proceed with our walk, I ask.

    “What were they singing about? It didn’t sound nice”.
    “They were singing that ‘Somali and Danish do not belong together’…’Danish and African do not belong together….tralalalala!”
    “So what did you ask them?”
    “Who taught you that? Who says so? That’s not true. Of course, they do belong together,” he remarks.
    “What did they say?”
    “Nothing. They are still chanting, louder this time.”
    I felt sorry for those girls. Someone is hammering those ideas into their juvenile minds. They are being taught prejudice (racism) instead of acceptance and tolerance. Human beings belong to whoever they choose to be (married or associated) with. It is sad to hear such young ones brazenly express their bias as if the world, run by adults, is not prejudiced enough.
    This incident reminded me of a similar one that happened when my husband said hello to a neighbour. The adult responded to the greeting only for their child to ask out loud.
    “Mum, but why did you say hello to that ‘white’ man?” An awkward silence fell between the two adults. 
    As an immigrant, living in Denmark, married to a Danish man and raising a mixed child, it means that I will come across prejudice in many areas of my daily life. Some will be subtle, others will be obvious. I will meet people who shall be unhappy with our mixed family. Some, like a lady we once met at a bus stop, will spit on the ground at the sight of us holding hands. In my opinion, prejudiced people are devoid of common sense and courtesy. Dale Carnegie, in his book, How to win friends and influence people, notes that, “When dealing people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”
    Someday my son will ask, “Mama why are you ‘black’ and Daddy is ‘white’?” Or he might wonder why his cousins are white while others are black. I’ve witty answers planned in my head. For instance, I might tell him, “Honey, mama is dark chocolate, your Daddy is white chocolate, and you are our little brown, perfect chocolate!”
    That answer might work till he is 4 years old or younger, but nothing can neither prepare me for the future nor who he will associate with. I am sure he shall notice and be curious about his Danish and Kenyan roots. He will wonder which world he fits in most.

    I know that prejudice is part nature and the other nurture. Bias is a normal part of human nature. However, those girl’s at the playground today have their prejudice thriving in a society that is clearly divided along ‘Us vs Them’. Their biases are being shaped by the messages they hear, intentionally or unintentionally.

     It is my duty, though, as a parent too see that my son learns and unlearns prejudice. I will teach him to be brave and celebrate who he is – a perfect blend of two cultures. None superior or inferior to the other. I will guide him into understanding and accepting the beauty of his African and Danish roots. My goal is to help him navigate prejudice and learn how to be tolerant. Maybe I am too idealistic, but I would rather be that than cynical. The world is already full of negative minded people. I chose to be different. To mentally condition my child differently.

    Right now he is still crawling and just turned 1 year old, some day he shall walk, then run. But I hope he will grow into a human being who values his own multicultural background while learning to appreciate the culture of others.
    In the end, we as his parents have to walk the talk. There is no way Fadhili shall learn tolerance if our lifestyle doesn’t match up with what we preach. Equality, empathy and inclusiveness are important virtues in our home, and we hope that his mind will grow picking and emulating them throughout his life. That is our grand plan for him!
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