Friday, June 12, 2009

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Raising children is a constant adventure.
Sunday during a family outing, I hear, “Mom - Jack said ‘crack.’” Sutton Hawk, my 3-year-old, was telling on Jackson, 5.
“Crack is not a bad word son,” came Mom’s quick retort.
“You’re a crack Sutton,” Jackson fired off with new energy getting the clear for “crack.”
Sutton replied, “Cracker!” And he said it in a racial manner.
I looked at Sharon with nothing to say.
A few weeks ago, Sutton really liked the word “Mexican.” He used it every way imaginable. He wasn’t using it in a mean manner, he just liked the way it rolled off the tongue.
Anyhow, Sharon and I had to tell the boy he could offend people by using his new favorite word. It took two weeks to get this bit of political correctness uploaded into his noggin.
Finally, we started to name off our Mexican-American friends and Sutton Hawk said, “They aren’t Mexicans ... they’re brown people.”
“What are we?” I asked. “We’re white people,” he said.
I didn’t ask him about his cousin, Sam. Sweet Samantha’s dad is African American while the mother is white. I have no idea whether the mom is English American, German American, French American or any other American.
Finally, I told Sutton, “Mexican is a word meaning ‘from Mexico.’ Just like saying we’re Texans because we’re from Texas.”
It got me to thinking... I certainly grow tired of the labels we’ve put on ourselves as a society in this country.
I’d prefer to drop the whole “fill-in-the-blank American.” I think I’ll settle for American. After all, there is no standard of how long you need to be on this soil to be called American. And since Native American is already in use, why not keep it simple.
But what of using state’s as a characterization? I’m a Texan. My sister is an Oklahoman now, although she ‘d prefer Native Texan.
My buddy Rollie lived in Texas for decades, but he’s an Okie through-and-through and has retired there.
It seems we’ve made things too complicated in our society.
My mother was a genealogy expert and traced our family back multiple generations. Dutch, German, English, etc... Guess I’m a Euro-white melting pot ... or would that just be Euro American.
Then again, if someone actually referred to me as a Euro American, I don’t think I would like it much.
I’ve got Indian American friends and Pakistani American friends. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference when I meet someone from either of these countries, but I know there is bad blood between their governments. It can get confusing. Besides, I’m pretty sure they’d prefer to simply be called “American.”
Here’s how I see it and how my children will view it: I’m here now as are you. We’re a ton of cultures from all over the world mixed together and each one of us should be treated as equals.
Our founding fathers - namely Thomas Jefferson - wrote it correctly and Dr. Martin Luther King helped us to understand: It’s not race. It’s just us, living together.
It is a complete waste of time and energy to worry about race.
As far as Jack and Sutton’s creative use of the English language - the jury is still out. They’ve each sampled soap and did not find it to their liking.
If they are anything like their dad, they’ll continue to test the parameters regarding language. My dirty little mouth kept me in plenty of trouble and it would not surprise me a bit if one or both followed suit.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2009

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