A Lesson on Racism

On our way home, we walked past two Indian ladies who were talking at the staircase. As we approached the lift lobby, Phoebie suddenly said, “Indian. Bye.”

“What?” I could hear one of the ladies say.

As the doors of the life closed, I asked Phoebie, “What was that about? Do you know that was very rude? Why did you have to say that?”

Phoebie was silent, no longer smiling.

When we got home, I told Phoebie that she had to stand in time-out for five minutes because of what happened. She stood quietly as the seconds ticked by. When the time was up, I called her to me.

“Can you tell me why you did that just now? Why did you suddenly say ‘Indian. Bye.’?” I asked.

Phoebie shrugged her shoulders.

“Mama told you before, right? There are people who are different races. There’s Malay, there’s Indian, there’s causasian, there’s Eurasian, and there Chinese. We may look a little different from one another, and we may speak different languages, but we are all the same. We are all people,” I explained. “There’s one Indian girl in your class, right? Marilyn?”

Phoebie nodded.

“Other than the fact that she’s Indian, she’s just like you. She’s a five year old girl who attends the same school and she also likes princesses. Now would you like it if Marilyn said ‘Chinese. Bye.’?”

Phoebie shook her head.

“Don’t do that anymore, okay? It’s not nice,” I told her.

Phoebie nodded.

“Okay, go and play.”

I have no idea why Phoebie had the sudden urge to call the ladies out by race but I don’t think it was a nice thing to do. It certainly isn’t something we teach her at home. 

I hope and pray that she remembers that other than race and language, we are not that different from others and that she should not call people out by race.


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