When Maya was told by a little boy at school that she couldn't sit next to him because she was Chinese, I reported it here.
When a child at ballet told Zoe her skin looked dirty, like it was covered with mud, I reported it here.
So imagine my surprise when Maya came home from school eager to teach her sister a new ditty she'd learned:
Mailman, mailman do your duty.Yep, I did the classic spit take, and tried my calmest voice: "WHAT did you just say?!" And no, it wasn't the kiss kiss kiss or even the booty, unmodified.
Come and shake your African booty
She can do the pom pom, she can do the splits
But best of all she can kiss kiss kiss.
Of course Maya had no idea there was anything racist about "African booty," so we had a chat about that. But I couldn't let her off the hook completely -- didn't she see it might hurt someone's feelings if they happened to be African, just like it hurt her feelings to be told she couldn't sit next to a boy because she happened to be Chinese?
We talked about how important it is to stand up for other people; even when we're not African, we have to stand up when they're teased just like we want others to stand up for us when we're teased because we're Chinese. Of course, when you're 7-about-to-be-8 it's hard to stand up, especially for Maya who has to fight against her particular issues -- wanting to be popular, wanting to fit in.
We brain-stormed some ideas of what Maya could do if it happened again, including her telling her teacher, her telling her friend to stop. Finally, she settled on having me talk to the mom of the friend who taught her the rhyme. That was an easy one, since I know the mom really well and knew she'd be receptive. Sure enough, she'd already heard the ditty from her child and had the same discussion I had with Maya! And they very smartly re-wrote the rhyme for future use:
Mailman, mailman do your duty.Thouh I liked even better the version the mom came up with (couldn't get buy-in from her daughter!):
Here comes a girl and she’s a cutie.
She can do the pom pom. She can do the splits,
But best of all she can kiss,kiss,kiss.
US Postal worker, US Postal worker do your duty,Yes, I've always known that bullies have mommies. I've known the parents of all kids who've racially teased my kids. But what do you do when your child is the bully, the teaser, the racist? Have you had that turn-around experience? What did you do?
Here comes a human being and it’s very smart.
They enjoy reading books and learning about art.
But most of all they can fart, fart, fart….