It’s 2012 and Some People Are Still A-Holes.

And so are their kids.

In case you can’t discern from the flaming title of this post, there may be some unsavory vocabulary present in this piece.

Please excuse me.

And, if this is something that your mind prefers to not interact with, by all means, consider this your warning.

To go read something else right now.  Because, I’m about to get buck up in here.

And, as my friend Roo noted, some things just require a few intensifiers.

To get the point across.

And sadly, this is one of those things.

So, head out now, if intensifiers scare you.

Matter of fact, if you’re bored, why don’t you just go check out my Pinterest page?!  It’s filled with fun, tame, intensifier-free type things made of smiles and rainbows and Ryan Gosling.

This?

Ain’t gonna be like that.

We cool?

Cool.

My son came home the other day and reported that, during lunch, in front of a large group of his friends, one of his more ignorant classmates lost his ever loving mind took it upon himself to call him a nigger.

That’s right.

He said it.

Out loud.

To my ten year old son.

In front of his fourth grade classmates.

I guess I should be happy that this is only the very first time he’s had one of the most vile racial slurs to ever enter the English language used to hurt him.

I guess I should thank my lucky stars that this was the first time he’s been shamed and humiliated in this way.

I guess I should be happy he didn’t do more; because after recent, horrific racially motivated events, we a know that worse can happen.

And, I guess I should probably not drive over to the school tomorrow and drop kick someone in the chest.

A couple of things came to mind when this news was hurriedly shared with me by my 6 year old tattle teller: 1) I hate people, 2) I hate ignorant people especially, 3) I want to punch that little brat’s mom clean in the face, 4) thank God my son had no idea how horrible this phrase is, 5) Oh my God, how have I not taught my son how horrible this phrase is!

As a black chick, I have been referred to negatively in this way before.

Not a lot of times, thankfully, but a few.

And every single time it hurt.

But, like everything else in my mom life, none of those hurt as badly as this.

Or made me want to ruin someone so badly with a punch in the face.

I’m not really much of a face puncher.

But on occasion, I’ve been know to light that beast on fire.

And learning that my sweet, innocent, probably-gonna-enter-the-priesthood-one-day son was referred to as a nigger, is one of those occasions.

I know, I know.

Violence begets violence.  And two rights don’t make a wrong.  And assholes can only hurt you if you let them.  Sticks and stones.

Whatever.

Give me a stick.  A couple of stones?  How about a belt?

My son wouldn’t know what to do with a stick if you armed him with it and showed him a video tutorial on how to kick someone’s ass when they begged you to do it.

He’s just too sweet to get down like that.

And also, his fire doesn’t ignite for anything.

Unless it’s bound and sporting an intriguing title.  Preferably something on wizarding, or adventure.

He is a passive and calm person unless you’re talking about books or science or video games.

That’s what gets him going.  A little.

And he’s not really of the standing-up-for-things-that-matter kind of Dude.

Matter of fact, I’ve only ever seen him stand up for someone a couple of times, and it wasn’t even for himself.

I’ve never actually witnessed him standing up for himself.

And that makes me sad.

Maybe even sadder than this incident.

When I asked him if he punched the kid in the face how he felt when this happened and how he responded to the child, he said he didn’t think he was talking about him, because that’s not what he is.

Good?

Of course.  Because he’s totally right.  And I’m proud of him for not letting someone with such an ignorant world view affect him.

But, sorta bad too.  And I really wanted to print this out, blow it up to an obnoxious size, and super glue it to his bedroom ceiling…

 

Because haters piss me off.

And I don’t understand why they don’t piss everyone off.

I know my son didn’t appreciate the gravity of the situation.  And that’s directly because I’ve failed to educate him about how that word has come to be so powerful.

And he has no idea what it means to be hated on for no reason at all.

We constantly hear people saying not to call people gay and not to use the word retard.

And we shouldn’t.

Ever.

Because that shit is mean.  And foul.  And ugly.

Kinda like calling a kid a nigger.

Only I don’t really hear people talk about why you shouldn’t say this word anymore.

There’s no blog campaigns.  No PSAs.  No nothing.

Why is that?

Because we think everyone already knows not to say it?  Or because we think no one says it anymore?

Clearly, both of those statements are false.

Some people still don’t seem to realize that it’s not okay to say it, in anger or in jest.

And, people still do say it, to hurt and shame.

I need to explain this to my children.  And, you need to explain it to yours.

My children are biracial.

They identify themselves as, um, Dudes?  They don’t think about the fact they’re black and they don’t think about how much of them is Mexican.  Mostly they just think they’re Dudes.  Fun, happy, athletic type Dudes with “tan” skin.

I’ve always been pretty much okay with that.

I want them to be appreciated and liked for the things they do, for their behavior, and their accomplishments; not for things they can’t necessarily control or change.

This of course proves I’m always right makes me revisit that whole raising genderless children argument I had with you myself previously.

No matter how much I’d like to not have my children be profiled, judged, feared, or victimized because of their race, I can’t even pretend it doesn’t affect who they are, and who they are going to be in the world.

I can’t hide it by putting a dress on it.

And I can’t grow out their hair to confuse people.

Not even an ambiguous first name is gonna save them from this one.

Lay eyes on my Dudes and you’re gonna know that they are black.  No questions asked.

And, when evil like this creeps into their lives I don’t wish I could hide their color or change it; I want to work harder to make them proud of it.  I want to teach them that lots of brave people fought lots of hard battles to make sure that they don’t have to let that word hurt them.  I want them to know that even to this day, people are fighting against those things.

And I want them to feel like they just can’t ignore it either.

I want them to feel the desire, the need, to stand up to people who say it, and prove to them that they can kick some serious ass they aren’t the ignorant, classless person, with little self worth; the idiot casting around big words they have no hope of understanding is.

I struggled for days weeks about whether I wanted to share this with you all.

I thought, I don’t blog as a black mom, or a black woman.  And, I don’t tell a black story.

I blog as a mom, and a woman.  With a story to tell.

That all moms can relate to.

But, the more I thought about it (and after recent events in Florida), I decided that this is a story all moms can relate to.

Feeling powerless in a situation that caused your child pain; all moms have been there no matter what color their skin is.

Plus, I wanted you to know that, while a black man leads this nation, and proves that we’ve come a long way, a boy in Florida was gunned downed and my ten year old son was called a nigger in a middle class, suburban elementary school lunchroom, which proves that we’ve still got a ways to go.

Let’s stop the ugly.

Real talk.

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Comments

  1. Jacqui Herron says:

    As a mother of a son with Asperger’s syndrome, and a son with 2 moms, I understand your plight with this word. My son sounds to be just like yours…does not get mad or angry or fight for himself. He would rather talk it out and use his favorite saying “everyone is different”. I love this boy. His best friend is bi-racial, and my son is the smallest 3rd grader you would ever want to meet. I asked him if being the shortest and thinest made him upset ever – he gave me the “everyone is different” speech. His best friend heard some of his teammates (little league) calling out and making fun of my childs short stature…his friend yelled across the field, “dont be talking about him, he is my friend”. Sends my heart to my feet – these are the children we are raising….A-hols BEWARE !!If only all Moms of GREAT children could reach the A-holes…What a wonderful world this would be !

  2. My heart hurts for your boy. It’s always devastating when something (or someONE) hateful encroaches on our kids’ innocence.

    As a mom, I want to do some face-punching too. As the “different” kid in school (I am deaf), I want to somehow show this boy how badly it hurts to have your uniqueness be something disparaged.

    I am stinkin’ proud of your boy. What grace.

  3. i know exactly how you feel. 3 little boys told my 7 year old little girl that white people are supposed to call black people niggers yesterday at school. i am white, her father is black. i am horrified. i didn’t think she had even ever heard this word before, but she knew it was bad. as soon as she told me what had happened i felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart. i am going in to the school this morning to make sure that these devils are punished to the fullest extent.

  4. Suzanne says:

    I’m very sorry that this happened to you and your family. It started me thinking about talking to my children about hate speech – not just about not using it but about what to do if they hear someone else saying it. To me it is not only a travesty that the word is used but so often people hear it without condemning it. I think it might be a wonderful conversation to start somewhere online about how to talk to your children about hate and share ideas and thoughts and brainstorm a little together — I find that it helps me to feel less isolated in these difficult conversations. Thanks to your blog, I had a conversation with my 6 year old today, not about hate speech (because she I don’t think she is ready yet to understand the power of certain words) but about how to stand up for others when someone is saying something unkind or hurtful. We made sure to come up with ideas on what to say (I don’t like that you said that. I don’t like that word. I don’t think _____ is a baby – she is good at _______ and she is my friend) and role played again. I hope someday that if she is in hearing range when someone is on the receiving end of that word that she will be able to say something to make sure they know it is the other person’s issue and not theirs and that the other person thinks before they say it again. Thank you so much for sharing — it is only through this that we can hopefully someday get rid of all the a$$holes out there!

  5. i would like to state that i am sorry some one called your son that word. As a person who grew up in an area widely out numbered by black people and Hispanics i never heard grown ups use the n word but in high school rap and hip hop had just started and kids were calling each other” my n****ger” i still do not understand why it is acceptable for one black person to say it to another . maybe that is how this young person heard it.

  6. I’m so sorry and sad and angry that this happened.

    And oh my, yes- let’s just stop all for he ugly.

    I love that you’re talking about it. We have to, we just do.

  7. Im sorry this happened to your son. I get all bent out of shape about racism and hate and ignorance as well. I really just hate HATE. That other kid probably had not idea how awful that word is but must hear it from others. So infuriating. I think we do have to acknowledge that kids can see differences but that they are just superficial. They tell you nothing of the person.

  8. I love that you don’t blog as a black mom or a black woman or tell a “black” story. I love that you’re just you – another mom to whom other moms can relate.

    But you were absolutely right to tell this story and spread this message. It’s not a “black” thing. It’s an awareness thing. A humanity thing. And like you said, feeling powerless as a mom is something that the rest of us can relate to.

  9. I think it’s awful to call children names, any name to hurt their feelings. But realistically, kids do this all the time. “Stupidhead”, “idiot”, etc… I don’t think we should crucify the parents and say they are racist and need to be run over with a truck! That is not an appropriate response. The child may have heard the word on TV or from another child and may not even know it’s meaning. My children have said plenty of things in the past that I have never uttered myself. We also need to get all the information about Trayvon Martin’s death, and realize that it may have not had anything to do with race, but was an altercation that got out of control with a gun involved. I believe Zimmerman was injured before he shot Trayvon in a struggle. Let’s look at the whole picture and not be so quick to shout “racial injustice.”

    • Agreed, children do call people names all of the time, and it’s always unacceptable, but there is a vast difference between calling people stupid head and using the word nigger. It’s called hate speak for a reason and it’s just really not the same thing. And, it shouldn’t be tolerated at school, just like if my son called someone a motherfucker he would be disciplined, harshly. Because calling someone something like that is NOT the same thing as calling someone a dummy. Additionally, knowing what I know of the situation, this was not an instance wherein the boy didn’t know what he was saying, or didn’t get it from home. Both are the case actually. I’m not someone who calls the school unnecessarily (or ever really), or who discusses race haphazardly (or ever really; this being the first time). This was an uncalled for instance of hate that was learned at home, and if people brush it off as being just some childish behavior it’s the same thing as perpetuating it, which I am not comfortable doing. No one should be run over by a truck, no one should be judged unfairly, and no one should have their child called a nigger.

      • I’m not sure how this kind of comment could have been left after you poured your heart out in this post. I have been reading here for quite a while and have rarely heard you speak so strongly about something. I feel bad this happened to you and your son. To have a commenter diminish feelings that you have every right to have is hard for me to swallow. Sorry Amanda.

  10. Wow. The power of words…
    un-fucking-believable.
    and of course, they had to have heard it to use it. They had to have been explained what it meant!
    So what did you end up doing??

  11. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this. thank you for letting it out and being honest it what you were feeling. And I am so so sorry. I hate that this happened. I hate that people do still use that word and I hate that kids have to hurt.– wait, they don’t. If parents would just suck it up and do their duty and teach them right… ugh I am getting all crazy mad now. I am so glad it didn’t seem to hurt your son as much as it could have but I still hate that it happened.

  12. OMG! I wish we could protect our kids forever from those ignorant bastards! I am appauled. Not only that this word is still getting used but that this word came out of a fourth-graders mouth! Unbelievable. Yes, kids and their parents are assholes! How can you prepare your kids for people like this?! Im so sorry this happened to your son, who sounds like such a sweet boy. This should not happen to anyone.

  13. I don’t know how you didn’t go over there and punch him…or worse. I know that mama-rage. I’m sorry that this happened. I think you’re dead-on with this: Because we think everyone already knows not to say it? Or because we think no one says it anymore?

    I can’t believe that in 2012 this is even still an issue. WTF?

  14. Oh my goodness! What an amazing post. In EVERY since of the word! One, for sharing this “side” of you (the “black” mom) side. And two, for being an AWARE mom of what world our kids are being brought up in. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with this type of ignorance with my kids. But sadly, I brace myself for my daughter to come home and tell me something like this every day. Sad! But true.
    You didn’t mention how you handled the little tyrant that called your son this HORRIBLE name?
    Ok, ok…I know, it’s not my business :-). Thanks again for a great post. And for making us more aware of the ignorance that, sadly, still surrounds us. And you know the REALLY sad part about this story? That poor kid got that from SOMEWHERE! My money is on his home!

  15. I am so sorry that your dude had to experience such hate. I am also sorry for that kid at the school who said it. I could not imagine growing up in a house where I thought it was ok to call someone a racial slur. You are right for wanting to punch his mom in the face. You are also right for not doing it. I am blessed to have only experienced being called a Nigger once. It was a few years ago and I’d cut someone off accidently driving in a parking lot. It was such a sting and blow to the stomach to see him mouth that word and direct it at me!!! I cannot imagine how much worse I would have felt if others were there to hear it not to mention how much more it would have pained me to be the victim of that hate as a child. Sadly people still use the word, still judge each other first based on color of skin, and still raise their children to hate. I am giving you and your dude a virtual (((hug)))

  16. Crying.

    children:so innocent. And this hate: learned from parents of the haters.

    Makes me cry.

  17. Amen. It’s outrageous that in this day and age as far as our country has come, one ugly horrible word can tear it all down in a nanosecond.

    I am so sorry that your son had to hear that and experience it. I don’t understand how our schools have these HUGE campaigns against bullying and allow people to speak that way to another human being. I pray to GOD my children never learn that word or have friends that use it. If they do, this mom will get real ugly fast.

    I had a similar conversation with my ten year daughter yesterday. My daughter came home and told me about how the girls in her class were labeling other girls (B.G.- Bad Girl) and (GG – good girls). She asked me me if I knew what a BG was? I said, “Yes, they were a disco group in the 70s)”. She laughed and said, “No do you know the modern version of a BG?” Then she proceeded to tell me what the initials stood for and I was floored. I told her, “We don’t make a habit of labeling people.” I then continued by reminding her that her school emphasizes character development daily and this sort of labeling goes against everything her teachers are teaching her as well and what we teach at home.

    I was so annoyed. Why do parents think this is cute or ok? I felt it was important to nip this in the bud because this is one closer step and only a few years away from labeling a girl a slut.

    Also, I have to admit, I’m from a generation when using the word retarded or gay was an acceptable adjective to describe something dumb or strange. I know now that it’s wrong and I am trying my darnedest to not use those words anymore. Like Oprah said for years, “When you know better, you do better.”

    BTW…Here’s a PSA for you. ;-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T549VoLca_Q

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Thanks for the PSA. And yeah, Bad Girl already sounds like a slut?! How else can they even be bad? Talking in class?!

  18. It’s really sad that that word hasn’t died the death of other racial slurs that used to be so prevalent (I mean seriously, there used to be words for just about every nationality at one point or another, and most people can’t even remember what they are anymore because they’ve just died out). We can get rid of it by boycotting songs with lyrics that use that word in their songs-that is probably going a long way to keeping that word alive and well. Just don’t buy them. Change the radio station when they are on, or call in and complain.

    The beauty of being bi-racial is that you can use it to your advantage. I never check race when asked. I always answer “Other” and write in “American” if there is an opening for it. Keep them guessing. I hate labels, anyway. It just gives people an excuse to lower their expectations of you.

    If someone tries to insult me using a racial slur, I tell them they’d probably sound a little less stupid if they at least had the right one. The trick is to arm yourself with phrases to pull out in advance, so you’re not stunned and left speechless in the heat of the moment.

    It is sad that your son had to deal with such nastiness. But he has great parents who can arm him to deal with those situations in productive and long reaching ways. And if done correctly, to shatter the limited world views of the person in question. Not an easy task, admittedly. Good luck!

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I’ve never done the neither thingy with The Dudes. I always check both and then realize that I’m actually probably misclassifying them long story), and then I get frustrated, and then I don’t care. I know what they are, they know what they are, and as long as they are counted among the brown members of the community (just because in a place where it’s like only 1%, I like to at least help bump that number up a bit!)!

  19. I read your post just before going to bed last night when I saw it come across Twitter. Usually, I would’ve been like a tiger on the loose trying to get at that kid for saying that to #1. Then as I laid there, I thought…I wouldn’t be helping. I would be drawing negative attention to something that needs to be shown in a way that proves that love and respect are better than the nasty words that people can use. We do not use this word in our house, we teach our children that it is a bad word and we teach them to stand up and say something if they should ever hear it. I love that #1 did not recognize that this word was intended as hurtful for him. It shows that you have raised him with a lot of love and that he has a very good circle of family and friends in his life. The world does have a long way to go but posts like this are something that can get us there faster. Much love to the mama bear that came out and much love to the Dude Mom you are EVERY day!!

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I rarely use my blog voice in this way but I just felt like I needed to do it. I figure if bloggers are using it to get their washer serviced more quickly then it’s sorta my responsibility to use it in this way too, right?! With great power comes great responsibility! Leave it to a Dude Mom to quote Spiderman!

  20. Thanks for sharing. That word is razor sharp and as parents we need to prepare our kids for it while hoping they never hear it. Love that your son knew it wasn’t him!

  21. I am a white mom with one white and one biracial child. I have had family members use that hateful word without thinking of what it means to my child. I am loud and opinionated and have no problem telling someone they are being an ass or putting them physically out of my house for using the N-word or the R-word in regards to anyone I care about. My grandmother refuses to hang my daughter’s most recent school picture because she looks too dark. I have had a neighbor prevent his grandchildren from having birthday cake and ice cream with my child because “she’s black” . I told him it didn’t rub off and that he was the one preventing his grand kids from having fun with the rest of the kids not me and not her. She has some awesome friends with some awesome parents, In February , during a school assembly the speaker asked all the kids of african heritage to raise thier hands(there are only 4 kids of colour in her school. My daughter, her 2 first cousins, and another boy who is about a 3rd cousin to the other 3) My daughter’s friend tried to stop her from raising her hand saying “you’re not black, you’re just tanned”, my daughter replied that her tan never goes away and raised her hand. I raised her on my own for 6 years(she is almost 13 now), she has some really amazing role models from both sides of her family, and some that are not that great too but she knows the difference and seems to be able to handle most situations thrown her way. She is confident, beautiful, strong and loving, She is a child first and as long as she is happy in her own skin and confident enough to stand up to her friends I am happy. She has heard the N-word used against her, but was confident enough to not let it show that she was hurt. I guess what I am trying to say is that you are not alone, and that other parents have, are , and will be where you are right now, it is how we teach our children to handle the situation that will make the difference.

    Brazen

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I seriously can not even imagine those things happening. It was an isolated event what happened to my son as we’ve never, EVER felt ostracized in our community. I’d probably move if people said those things to us. Which would be the entirely wrong reaction, I know, but still!

  22. THANK YOU so much for sharing this story!! I can’t wait to read about how you follow up and how it is handled. Bring on the Mama Bear! Bravo for your courage and your amazing kid for not even getting ruffled. Do you think the kid who said it even knew what it meant, or only that it was a mean thing to say? If you can give us some pointers about how to educate kids about racism in a calm and informational way without getting upset, then I am happy to give you some advice for talking about sex with kids. :-)

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I’m working on it! I wish I had good pointers before this happened. But, I think I might have a few now! How about this, you send yours over and I’ll get them squared away about race, and I’ll send mine over and you can just keep them until they’re married. Deal?

  23. Kudos to your son for not identifying with that word He’s right. That’s not who he is!

    Yes it would be nice if our kids ( and us!) lived in a world where they can be whatever they want. Sadly once they tan a bit, people are quick to label and discriminate. My son hasn’t heard that word aimed at him yet but that doesn’t mean he wont hear it aimed at me or any of his “darker” family members on my side of the family.

    He needs to knows that words like that exist and what to do when he hears people say that. Once he knows then he has the power over the word and the reaction it will have on him. As the black mom all I can do is educate and prepare him.

  24. As mother to the whitest teenage girl alive today, I can tell you I’m horrified. We live in an area that is extremely diverse racially. I’m not sure how it happened, I don’t remember talking to her about racism or slurs that should never EVER be used, but she learned early that people are people, regardless of their color.

    I find it odd that some of these people who are so focused on the hate see a difference between a white woman or man marrying a person of color, but see nothing wrong with marrying an Irish, Polish, Russian, German, etc., etc., etc. What’s the deal? It makes me ill to think of the sins perpetrated on the races that happen to have darker skin. Native Americans included. God made us all. The same. The hate needs to end.

    Wish I could give your little man a big hug!

  25. I read this last night and I was in so much horrible awe that I could not comment. Like I was physically shaken and upset.

    Now that I’ve calmed down a bit I just wanted you to know that I’m so proud of you for writing this and sharing it here but also so very sad and hurt for you and your son.

    I pray every day that we can get past this as a society. That this word can be GONE.

    Much love to you my friend. Wrapping you in hugs. xoxo

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I know how you felt, Elaine. I was feeling similarly when I heard. I took much longer to be able to get the words I wanted out for this post. Thank you for sharing yours. And hugs are awesome!

  26. Wow. Just wow.

    First so sorry your son had to go though this.

    Second you have really made me think. I have a 12, 10, and 5 year old and I don’t think that they know anything about the word. We have never discussed and I certainly know they have never said. I can’t be sure that they have never heard it, but I am certian that they don’t know the hate behind the word. Which is scary to me, especially when thinking about my impressionable go with the flow 10 year old.

    Not a discussion I am looking foward to having with them, but a necesary one.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      It’s like the sex talk. Okay, I’m actually dreading the sex talk just a tiny bit more. Not sure what that says about me other than that I’m an overprotective, prude of a mother, but whatever!

  27. That is absolutely outrageous. I can’t believe this kind of stuff happens in 2012. I don’t know how I would handle that. I am very protective and I would feel just like you

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Yeah, it’s one of those things where like you know it can happen, just not to you. Or someone you know. Or where you live. It happens to “other” people. At least that’s what I thought. Only, I’m the “other” person now.

  28. I’m not a crier, but I’m crying now. Angry, sad, heartbroken tears. I want to hug you and the Dudes, and I want to shake the person who taught that other boy such a horrible word. I don’t understand it, and I’ll never understand it.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Oh, Annw, you’re so sweet. I could do some shaking myself, but I’ll give you a call when my arms get tired:)!

  29. I will never understand haters. I’m so sorry this happened. :( Important post to share my friend.

  30. My nephews (and my own kids) are half Jewish & half Christian. One day, one of my nephews classmates gave him a swastika. My sister-in-law handled it much more calmly than I would have. In fact, it terrifies me that this kind of hate is passed on to *children*. Children that interact with other children. *children*, people!!
    My son seems very much like your son. I don’t want to think about how my son would react. I don’t want to think about it, but I do. Often. And that makes me sad.
    You’re right: people can be a$$holes, and it is just horrifying that this sort of thing still exists.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I don’t even know where a person gets a swastika! And why would anyone do something like that ever?! Insanity.

  31. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m really, really sorry this happened to your son. I agree with you that we need to start getting real about this and have some real conversations. We need to start talking about how the derogatory words are not okay with said in insult or jest, and neither is the systematic racism that exists in our society. There is a lot of work to be done.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I need to do it too, you know?! I’m not in the clear because I’m black. And neither are my kids. Clearly they need to learn about this stuff and how they can hurt or heal with their words.

  32. I am a parent of two special needs kids. The “R” word kills me. I hate it. But, if we’re being honest, those kinds of words come and go. Before that it was idiot or lame or whatever. I think the R word will eventually lose it’s sting, too. If we let it.

    But the N word will NEVER EVER be one that I think will ever lose it’s sting, nor should it. Though I’m truly grateful for the shoutout to “us” and to the gay communities, I really think the N word is on a whole other level. It’s foul. If my kid EVER was caught saying it I’d beat the hell right out of him.

    And I’m a white chick.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      You rock. And I agree with you, the words are different. The same. But different. I don’t want my kid using any kind of hate speech though, so I guess in the long term it probably doesn’t matter. Just be nice. That’s what I want to tell people. And watch your tongue!

  33. “Who hath dared wound thee?” –Oscar Wilde

  34. This post pierced my heart. Not because of what was said to your son (which was horrible), but because of what MY son said to a classmate in second grade. Not the n-word, but a derogatory comment about her based on the color of her skin. I wanted to throw up when I got the phone call from the teacher. MY son said that. I was sick, angry, mortified, and heartbroken for the pain he caused. I felt like a failure as a parent. How did I not teach him that wasn’t ok? I realized, later, that I never taught him it wasn’t ok because the subject never came up. One of my husband’s best friends is African. His children play with my children. We’ve never even discussed their race or the fact that other people in society have a problem with that….because we simply don’t. I’ve just focused on teaching him to treat others well, not to see color, and to be kind. FAIL. I don’t know what the solution is, but I can tell you that my son made amends in the best way we could come up with. There have been many teaching moments since then. He bought her flowers with ALL of his allowance (several weeks’ worth.) He wrote her an apology letter (by himself.) He apologized IN PERSON to her parents. You have a right to be angry-your kid was hurt in a horrible way and the bully deserves to be punished. Please be careful damning the parents of ignorant, misbehaving children. Don’t assume their parents are evil racists. I really hope that mean kid learns from this and never, ever says that again. I hope your son gets an apology and some kind of restitution. And I hope that we someday fully and finally evolve so this doesn’t happen to anyone’s child.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Good for you for doing something about it. The pain of the moment can’t be erased, but the healing part can certainly be made easier. And the most important part is that the children learn. BOTH of the children. I know that my children have said offensive things about people (fortunately never to anyone’s face), but what matters is how you address it when it happens and how you work to ensure that it won’t happen again.

  35. Thank you very much for posting this. As a mom, it serves as a reminder to me to not take for granted things that my kids know or don’t know. My son is 13 years old and half Hispanic. I know he doesn’t relate much to his latin heritage as so far it hasn’t been a big part of his life. He has friends of all races and backgrounds, but I hear him refer to most of the Hispanic kids as “Mexicans” and he jokingly calls his friends “retards”. I know that he doesn’t really mean it (the retard part), but it’s still not right and I need to remind him of that. He is spending two weeks in Central America this week with his grandfather and I hope that he comes back from that trip with a more wordly view of life and people.

    In the meantime, I have to remember to do my part to teach him right and wrong. You sound like you have it right and your kids will grow up to be wonderful human beings.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Oh my gosh don’t even get me started on the “Mexicans” thing! EVERY Latin person is NOT Mexican! No one seems to realize that, including my own children (who are 1/2 Mexican by the way)!

  36. My 11yo 6th grader came home last week and told me how the teachers changed recess so that individual classrooms need to stay together in separate parts of the schoolyard now instead of letting the entire grade co-mingle. Apparently there has been some trouble with hate speech in the grade, and recess is the worst offender since everyone is free to be. According to my son, out of the 115 or so kids in his grade, more than 80!!!! were accused of saying something hateful in regards to someone’s race, religion, body type, or gender. He said he has never said anything like that, but things have been said to him. He also named a few of his friends that have never said anything bad. I thanked him for being smart and respectful, and made some comments about surrounding himself with good people, blah blah blah, but didn’t talk about any specific slurs he has heard. I think we need to take that conversation a step further – find out what he really knows, what words kids are using, and explain WHY they are so hateful.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      My sons were completely clueless about the word. Matter of fact, originally, my youngest ran in and said that someone had called is brother a nerd. He really was that unfamiliar with the term. Which is bad of me too. I need to educate them; this proves it really. They can’t live their lives ignorant of this hatred anymore. It won’t help them in the long run.

  37. I am so, so sorry that this happened. It is incomprehensible that this type of behavior still exists. It is inexcusable that this happened to your son and the events in Florida are so heartbreaking I can not even form eloquent thoughts. Thank you for such an honest post addressing such an important subject.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Thank you for reading it. I really just wanted people to hear it. To really hear it.

  38. Doesn’t it amaze and knock the socks off of you when you hear such stupid things coming from others. I am jewish and I still get some comments made. In 2012. You would think the US and the world would be a better place by now. But we still have a long way to go.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      It’s a shame. It really truly is. And, I’m sorry for the hurt you’ve experienced from this type of hate as well. All kinds of ugly just needs to stop. We’d be so much better off.

  39. I’m so sorry to hear this. It’s sad to know that people are using this word in their homes.

    If my kids ever said this word I would be horrified. Your not wrong to have the feelings you have- you want to protect your children.

    I sincerely hope that your family NEVER has to deal with something like this ever again….and if it does- I got your back girl!

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Sweet! I love it when I know I can trash talk because people got my back. Mom Gangstas for life!

  40. This makes me sick. Why do kids, children, do this? I know they get it from home and those around them but really, why must adult issues spread to innocent children.

    I am sorry this happened. I have been dealing with kids on Hayden’s bus who keep calling him stupid. Man, I just want to beat their asses.

    Haters suck!

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Haters gonna hate. I guess I just have to focus on the fact that my Dude didn’t let it get to him, and work on the fact that he didn’t even know that it should! I want to find that balance for him, between awareness and confidence that lets him know the person who said it is a total loser, but also that he is awesome no matter what. Got any ideas on how I can accomplish that?!

  41. Right on, Amanda. Keep fighting the good fight. How WILL you deal with this with your son (because you know it won’t be the last time and you know that the older he gets the more serious it will become) and what will your advice to him be? As you know, we have faced this with our three over the years many, many times. What is perhaps sadder yet is how the “system” or “establishment” treats these incidents (for lack of a better word). Just wait until you DO go up to the school or whatever hierarchy is relevant and are told that YOUR child is in the wrong and facing consequences because he had a reaction, verbal or physical, to the racism being directed at him. Just wait until you are sitting across from the establishment types who do not want to deal with this and will attempt to squash you down just to keep their waters calm and undisturbed. FEAR is a strong motivator and they have FEAR. Fear that they may have to take a stand, fear that others may judge them for whatever stand they do take, fear of the majority who do not want them to take a stand especially if it is a pro your child stand. The majority does not want to deal with racism, take it out and look at it, acknowledge it if they are, do something about it if they are, and they have FEAR that someone else may find out if they are. So they just keep very, very quiet. Perhaps adding more fuel to the fires of racism than even the overt racists do. You can’t fight against what you cannot see! Good luck to you and your boys. I’m with you. Love Aunt Judy

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Awesome, awesome comment. But mostly? I’m just excited my very own aunt is reading my blog. I’m about to do a happy dance in my kitchen. And yes, I can dance. Very, very well:)

  42. Thank you for sharing- you are a better mom than me because I probably would have punched someone in the face for calling me kid a racial slur! I think its wonderful that you have raised him so well, to be so calm and to just assume that the other child was not talking to him because thats not what he is. I know you feel like you should have better explained at somepoint what the word actually means but I just cant help but love his answer anyway. He is so good!

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I loved it too! I just struggle with finding a good balance: how to make them aware without making them jaded and pessimistic? It’s just another thing we parents have to think about!

  43. I am so glad you blogged this.

    I don’t remember the N-word flowing freely from any of my adult relatives’ lips, but I was pretty aware of certain family members’ feelings about people of color, and they weren’t all positive.

    When I was six my mom and I were driving home, and something caught my attention. I said, “Hey, Mommy, look at that black guy.” My mother went ballistic. “WHY DOES IT MATTER THAT HE’S BLACK?!! IT SHOULDN’T MATTER TO YOU OR ANYONE ELSE!!!!”

    I could not figure out why I’d freaked her out so bad; I was just trying to distinguish the guy from the other folks standing around, and I picked the thing that was most obvious to me. But, I certainly remembered what she said, especially because I’d clearly made her angry.

    Fast forward about two years. My parents divorced, and we moved into a racially well-integrated neighborhood. I went to school where there was a pretty even mix of black and white students. My best friend was a girl named Phyllis. Phyllis came over to my house after school one day and braided my waist-length hair. Into corn rows. With beads and everything. I was sooooooooooooo happy. My mother, though, lost her ever-loving mind when she came home and saw it. She didn’t want my grandparents or my father to see me with my hair like that. After all, my grandmother once told my sister not to wear a purple sweater with jeans because it made her look “Puerto Rican.” (This was way before J.Lo, okay?)

    And, then it clicked — that little meltdown in the car years earlier. She wasn’t yelling at me; she was yelling at everyone in her life she didn’t have the courage to stand up to and say, “That’s not right.”

    I often wonder what would have happened if my mom and I hadn’t had that exchange in the car before the one we had after Phyllis braided my hair. What would’ve happened if I’d been constantly exposed to disdain, dislike or even hate for people who weren’t me? Would my whole attitude and my perceptions about people be different?

    If you ask my mother about either of these events, she’ll tell you she doesn’t remember them. I believe her. But that they faded from her memory instantly and stuck in mine for a lifetime is the exact reason I’m glad you wrote this blog. How much of what a parent says in a day is mindless banter for her and a life-defining moment for her child?

    My heart breaks for you because someone hurt your son. But, my heart also breaks for the kid who said that horrible word to your son, because he doesn’t seem to have an adult in his life to tell him why he shouldn’t do it again. Sure, you can give your sons armor against that type of insult, but what needs to happen is for parents to stop giving their kids swords …

    • I completely understand. My best friend in elementary school was Tasha. The kids on my block used to make fun of me for bringing her to my house. It hurt my feelings so much- I was very sensitive. If it were today- I’d tell them to go f*%k themselves- but I stopped having her over to save her from getting hurt and to save face with the kids on my block. I grew up it Brooklyn- you would think it was diverse, but it was mostly Irish & Italian. I wish I would have known better then. Tasha is a great friend and I treasure the friendship we still have.

  44. wow….I would have lost it…
    and you know, I have assumed that the N word is one people know not to use…
    I am a loud voice for the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, and the comparison for the R word is often the N word, because we always assume people know how hateful it is…
    But I guess we’re wrong…
    So where do we start campaigning?

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I don’t know; I’m not much of a campaigner. Unless there are cupcakes on this campaign trial, and then I’m THERE!

  45. Thank you for writing this. It needed to be told. People need to know this word is still around, that racism still exists. I’ve been appalled by the number of people in my Facebook feed who think it is a thing of the past. I am sorry that this happened to your son. I am sorry that it’s something you have to think about preparing your boys for. I am sorry for the boy who said it, because he has some adult in his life who believes teaching that kind of hate is ok. I hate that this kind of hate exists. I wish there was more I could say that didn’t sound trite. As a biracial person I’ve felt prejudice first hand, seen it happen to my brother, my mother, my family. I hate it.

    ((hugs))

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Oh my gosh when I think of the things that have happened to my brother! I honestly don’t know why I thought it would be entirely different for my sons.

  46. Scargosun says:

    Oh! I provide alibis too. ;)

  47. Scargosun says:

    You know that feeling you get when something makes you so sad but the tears just don’t come? It just feels like a fist squeezing your heart. That is how this made me feel in the beginning. I am so sorry that happened to your little boy. I continued to read about you two having that talk about how he felt and my heard blew off the fist squeezing it and surged. It is still absolutely horrible, but your child knowing who he isn’t/is, at a young age made me cheer and do back flips inside for how his awesome mom is raising him. Since I don’t have kids and probably will not, I just want to say thank you for raising a child I would be happy to see as a leader of his generation.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      He’s a pretty cheer worthy dude. And I think he’s going to be a police officer; he just told me that last week. Because he “wants to be one of the good guys”.

  48. I just got into a discussion with another mom a few days ago. She has bi-racial kiddos and we were discussing how kids at our kids age (mine is 4) doesn’t really know the difference on skin color yet. Unless, as I said to her, the parents discuss it or make it a thing.

    Honestly, I don’t feel sorry for your son because he has you as a mom and he is going to be raised with strength and integrity and be proud of his skin. This tells me he is going to not let ignorant people like this boy who called him the N word (sorry, I don’t think I have ever said it aloud in my life and certainly don’t plan to start now in text) bring him down. He will stand proud as a man. A “tan” man, perhaps but a man regardless.

    I do however feel very sorry for this other boy who called him the N word. This tells me that he is clearly being raised by bigoted parents who are going to share their narrow minded view with him and most likely raise a bigot themselves. I feel sorry that he won’t ever know what it means to just judge someone for the inside, for their character, for their morals, for their choices but yet instead is being raised to judge someone for their skin. He will never know full open-mindedness. His parents are robbing him of that. It makes me sick.

    As for his parents? I would happy run over them in my truck. Just shoot me a quick picture of what they look like. I have a list of people I plan to run over this week and will happily add them to the very top. As a matter of fact? Nothing would give me more bliss that to floor it as soon as they stepped in front of my truck.

    Yup.

    Fabulous post. So glad you shared this story.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      A list, huh?! That’s awesome! Thank you for your kind words. It is sad to know that some families seem to breed hate and ignorance. It doesn’t have to be that way!

  49. I absolutely hate that an ignorant SOB taught their child that a racial slur is okay. I hate that that child then thought it was equally okay to use it against ANYONE. Most especially against a child.

    I HATE hate. It is ugly. It kills (as we know from recent events), and it doesn’t have to be a reality in our lives and yet it is.

    Fist bump to you Mama for wring this. I’m proud to call you my friend.

  50. Thank you for sharing.

  51. So, so sorry your son had to experience this and the boy’s parents ignorance. As we say what others teach us or what we grow up around. Thank you for sharing your words and your story as well. You have so much restraint not to go to the school or the boys parents. Your message is heard and I’m happy you posted this.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Thanks Mindi. I went back and forth about sharing it, and I dealt with it on my own before I did. SO I could come to this space calmly and express myself in a way people could hear. I just wanted others to know that this still happens, and that talking to their children about it is important!

  52. Oh, my goodness, that’s so sad. That’s the Momma Bear coming out. I can’t even imagine someone doing something hurtful to my child. I’d be right there with you, ready to go teach the mom of that kid a lesson. Beause that’s who is failing… The parents who aren’t teaching their kids how to respect and treat other people. I’m so sorry your poor boy had to deal with that. It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job as a mom. Keep it up!!

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I seriously didn’t even know what kind of Momma Bear I had in there! Apparently she’s a stabby little beast! Thanks for the vote of confidence; here’s hoping their therapy bill won’t be too vast in future!

  53. I wish we had a system whereby a parent could challenge another parent to a cage match if their worthless piece of garbage offspring messed with your kid. Maybe if the parents had to pay for their childrens’ classlessness it would help make parents more responsible.

    I’m sure someone has already said this in a comment, but can we just GET RID of that word altogether? It’s gotta cause confusion when these kids hear that in songs and such, but then they’re told it’s a horrible word.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing, because it sounds like your kids are awesome. Teach them that name-calling only shows how ignorant someone is. There’s no reason to ever be upset over the words of some jack-a-ninny.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Thank you for commenting. And I have to admit that I’ve done a little cage fighting in my past so I’m kinda interested in making this dream of yours a reality! In seriousness, I agree about the music and stuff, but, as a total hip hop head, I feel like there is a bit of a difference between colloquial use and hate speech. Not to say that either is right, just to note that after hearing my son recount this incident it was NOT said colloquial, and was meant to be hurtful.

  54. This is something that I have feared ever since I had kids. In NYC, I literally grew up thinking, people in the south were racist. Now that I live here? I am scared that my children are gonna come across this. And Maryland isn’t even that south – and I’ve come across this. I am so sorry that your little dude had this happen to him. It makes me so sad that we are still living in a world like this. I wish we could protect them from this stupidity

  55. Oh you are soooo sooo right to be upset. As the mom of a little black boy, I had these thoughts about race and what that will mean to him in the back of my head. but as you put, recent events brings these thoughts to the front of my mind. it’s sad in this day in time that children are still taught to say vicious things. Because of course, who else are they learning it from?
    Thanks for sharing

  56. This is awful and unbelievable that this kind of thing occurs still. I know kids can be cruel, but come on!! All your children are so adorable and obviously adorable on the inside too. I want to teach my kids that what other people think of them is none of their business. It’s still hard though. I follow that in my own life, although it took a while and a lot of heartache to come to realize this and I want my boys to learn it early.
    Thanks for sharing this important post.

  57. This is awful and unbelievable that this kind of thing occurs still. I know kids can be cruel, but come on!! All your children are so adorable and obviously adorable on the inside too. I want to teach my kids that what other people think of them is none of their business. I follow that in my own life, although it took a while and a lot of heartache to come to realize this and I want my boys to learn it early.
    Thanks for sharing this important post.

  58. Good for you for writing this! You’re right, this is something every mom can relate to because we’ve all felt the helplessness and pain of someone hurting our child. But it’s also something we all need to hear because we all need to address these issues with our kids – whether they could potentially be the recipients of the hate, or if we want them to be on the lookout to stop others from hating.

    I think your son’s response was really cool. But I also laughed out loud at the poster you want to hang over his bed – because I think every kid needs one of those.

  59. Thank you! Thank you so much for addressing this issue. People sometimes think that because slavery is over that everyone is equal, which unfortunately is not true yet. I’m glad that you have the currage to state your feelings on the matter and I am so deeply sorry that ignorance still exists.

  60. Amanda, your post really hit home for me. I have a sweet little 2 year old boy and sadly, he’s going to hear that word directed at him one day.

    Why aren’t there PSAs and blog campaigns about the n-word? I often feel like I’m not allowed an opinion on how the n-word is used because I’m not black. I had to shut my windows a couple of weeks ago because a black woman was on her phone, talking loudly to whom I assume was her boyfriend. She referred to him as N-this and N-that. As much as African-Americans attempt to “take back” the N-word, I don’t think it should be used at all.

    It’s a hurtful word, no matter the skin color of the person who speaks it.

  61. I am so happy you decided to write this post, because it is totally true. We have can a long way but still have so much further to go. My son is a lot like yours. He sweetest boy you can ever meet, never has a mean thing to say about anyone. And that still have not stopped rude, untrained kids at his school to say mean and hurtful things. But we have taught him to stand up for himself, which is very important to do. It’s not so much about violence begetting violence, but about defending yourself. As parents we must remember that the ignorance of these kids start at home. We can only continue to teach our kids what is right and how to stand up for themselves. And ALWAYS pray they they make the right decisions. Sorry for the long comment but I feel you about wanting to drop kick that kid, but that won’t help your son. I’m glad he ignored that little brat, cause in a way he took that kids power away by not responding.

  62. This makes my blood boil.
    I am so extremely sorry that your 10 year old…TEN…had to hear such an awful fucking word.
    First of all, where is that little shit learning that language? That is not acceptable at all.
    It is such a shame in 2012 that racism still exists. We are ALL the fucking same on the inside.
    Such a shame.

  63. What kills me is this other 10 yr old has heard/learned it someplace. Sure it could have been from a history book (imagine my blank stare) but likely it came from home (or perhaps the music they listen to at home?). It incenses me b/c at 10 he (I’d like to think) does not understand what he is saying, what he is doing, what he could have incited if your docile son was not so laid back. The crap about embracing the word, it can be used as a term of endearment, blacks can use it towards blacks and it not have a negative connotation: BULLSHIT. It means what it means and using it means what it means. Even in jest, it still means what it means. And you were right to write about it. It’s everywhere — not just Florida, but even hiding in middle class lunch rooms. And that is sad. You get that familiar underarm tingle, that sweat and full body itch that make you want to be the maddest mofo lowdown around this town.

    Also, somebody’s mama does still deserve a a straight up roundhouse to the windpipe. What? I put that all the way down here. See? I’m toying with being a tad more diplomatic with my throatpunches.

  64. Sharing this. Far and wide. Because your words (in reply to one word) are important and breathtaking.

  65. Thank you for writing this. I was in a similar situation recently with my own biracial girls. One overheard someone saying (about another biracial girl) that “her name will be trash from now on cause she’s the color of it!” GOOD GRIEF. My inner voice was saying to my girl, “Why ddn’t you smack that girl in the mouth” but I’ve raised them better than that. I’m torn between teaching them to be strong and let things like that not affect them and telling them to just beat someone’s ass. :(

  66. Leigh Sarfati says:

    Well said but oh so hard to read. I continue to feel ashamed by the actions of people towards their fellow man on a daily basis. Love and support for you and yours.

  67. Nikki Blount says:

    Man, that sucks.
    As a teenager, I became righteously aware of the N word amongst my male friends and made it my mission to call them out embarrassingly everytime they said it to make them painfully aware how idiotic and ignorant it was to say.
    As a Mom of some sensitive kids, who have without baiting, befriended children with Autism and Down’s, I have made it very clear that the word “Retarded” not ever be spoken to describe anyone.
    In these times and about fifteen years or so later, it seems I need to revisit my passion for the expulsion of the N-word.
    I am so sad your son had to even hear that word.
    But I can’t help the sadness I feel for the lack of education the perpetrator has received.
    Sadness, because of the state of this country, still after all these years.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    It’s important we all are reminded that we can never become complacent, even over a word.
    Names hurt. And, we as parents need to be reminded to teach our children this.
    I hate, Hate.

  68. Oh Amanda… I am SO. VERY. SORRY. I don’t want to believe that in this day and age that things like this get said but I know for a fact that they do–I’ve heard them. And I live in suburban Kansas. The Bible Belt–where we are supposed to be known for our friendliness and our “God fearin’ ways”, and still it happens. AND IT SHOULDN’T! As a latina momma, (who has witnessed the latin versions of thos slurs hurled my way) with very white looking children, I know that they can “pass” and it bothers me that that is even a thought that I’ve made. But I too know that the ugly is still present and I fear the day when my children are witness to that side of people.

    Good for your son for understanding that that word didn’t apply to him and held no sway over his self worth. Oh if we all had such Grace!

  69. Thank you for telling this story. I’m both infuriated and sad. And I agree, we should all be offended when one of us is hated in this vile way.

  70. I’m so glad you shared this. If anything good can come out of the horrible situation that your son had to go through, it’s that us as parents really need to take seriously and realize how to teach and instruct our children on the importance of treating everyone as equal. My girls are still very young, but I will always teach them to be color blind in the way that you should never judge a person by the color of their skin, but by their character. I hear way too many kids these days using the “n word” so flippantly, they call their friends that and instead of saying “dude” or “dawg” or “bro” it sickens me to think that our children will grow up in a society thinking that this word is just the same as saying “bro.” because it is not, and it never will be. My girls will be taught that if they ever hear someone say that word, they will confront them right away.

  71. I am so sorry to hear this and the continued ignorance demonstrated by some members of society is truly sickening. Thank you for stepping outside your comfort zone and sharing your story because as you said, as moms we all identify with the powerlessness of the situations that our children confront every day and how much it hurts us to know that they’ve been hurt. You have done a fantastic job turning this experience into a teachable moment for everyone despite how maddening it is.

    And this part of your post? Nothing short of brilliant, my friend:

    “And, when evil like this creeps into their lives I don’t wish I could hide their color or change it; I want to work harder to make them proud of it. I want to teach them that lots of brave people fought lots of hard battles to make sure that they don’t have to let that word hurt them. I want them to know that even to this day, people are fighting against those things.”

    xo -Leticia

  72. I’m raising my own dude. He’s 13 now. What I’ve found is that you’ve got to arm them without harming them. I mean arm your dudes with self esteem (which you’ve obviously done a fantastice job) but also with knowledge. Knowledge of the goodness in most people but the meanness in a few. Knowledge that most parents teach their children well but there are some that have missed the boat and have very ignorant children. Knowledge that most parents will look at your dude and see his kindness, character and cool, but also the knowledge that others will only see his skin color..
    That’s the arming part. The do not harm part is this constant drilling that our dudes are awesome and there’s no one on earth that has the power to take that fact away also Arm them that love is more powerful than hate;fact more powerful than perception. You’re a great mom. Keep it up. Also, consider writing a calm letter to the your son’s teacher explaining what was said and your son’s reaction. They need to know…

  73. This makes me sad. And angry. I’m so sorry he had to go through that. Your post is a reminder of just how far we have to go.

  74. This makes me sick to my stomach. For him. For you. For humankind as a whole.

    I cannot wrap my head around how anyone could find this even remotely acceptable, and it kills me that ignorant assholes pass their evil on to their own children. I can only hope that as those children get older, they see how small and ugly those viewpoints are and break the cycle.

    I hope there are serious consequences for the children who did that to your son. I hope they learn from this.

    Thank you for writing this piece. It’s a good reminder that racism (among other awful -isms) is still rampant and needs to be battled.

    :hug:

  75. This makes me want to go over and punch the parents. You know that is where they heard that word and it makes my heart hurt. I am so sorry that he had to hear this word. I am so glad that you shared this. People need to realize that this word needs to go away and that kids hear what you say no matter how hard you try to hide out. (Or maybe his parents really don’t care and are really that ignorant.) I am so sorry!

  76. Oh baby… When I started reading this I had my nail file in my left hand, and I was gripping it so hard I had to pry it out with my right hand. It is a good thing I’m not closer because it would take a whole lot for me not to hunt that kid’s parents down and teach them a lesson. Which I know isn’t the right thing, but man… I’ll stop with that there. You already know.

    I’ve never said that word in front of my kids, obviously, and I would freak the fuck out (how’s that for an intensifier) if someone else did, but I think you’ve made a really good point here. I’ve never told my kids about it or how awful it is. I don’t want them to know about the ugly, but if you don’t know then you can’t stand up against it. I think we are going to have a serious discussion at our house tonight.

  77. Amy Nicole says:

    I just looked up the definition of the term. and I was disappointed to find that the ORIGINAL definition, on all five links that I clicked, is set as the second or 3rd definition now:

    2. Used as a disparaging term for a member of any socially, economically, or politically deprived group of people

    It’s sad and quite scary to see that not only are we conforming ourselves to be an ignorant society where the words queer (defined as odd not homosexual) gay (happy) and nigger (as defined above) are automatically looked down upon, but our dictionaries are now, also dumbing themselves down. It really is up to us to educate our children, both dudes and chicks, as well as ourselves, on the origins of these words, and how they have changed to fit this lazy and intellectually deprived society.

    There are other words out there that we don’t even bat an eye at. Yet if we defined them with their original meaning and sent our children to school with tongues wagging, we’d get a principal’s report sent home. Words like “dork” and “idiot” that are otherwise used by children today. Did you know that our children are calling each other wale’s penises (dork) and saying to that the another child has the mental capacity of a 3 year old (idiot)???

    I don’t really have any closing statement to this rant/comment/psa because it’s a never ending concern for me. Everyday I send my child to school, hoping he doesn’t add a derogatory, ignorant word to his extensive and otherwise intelligent vocabulary.

  78. I am so sorry this happened to your sweet boy. There are a lot of people out there who claim to be good people—and probably think they ARE good people—but they say things like this. Or they freak out when they see a black teenager in a hoodie in their neighborhood. Or (as is immediately personal to me) they see an autistic person spinning in circles in a restaurant. People aren’t as good as they think they are, and it is horrible to consider, but it is true. People say we’re post racial, but we’re not. There are still a lot of civil rights battles we still have to be fighting.

    This is such an important post and so well spoken. Thank you for sharing it with us. I know it must not have been easy.

  79. WTF? I have no words.

  80. Oh, my sweet friend.

    I just want to shake the mean right out of that child. And possibly punch his parents. Or get someone else to do it because I’m sort of a wimp.

    Not acceptable, at all. You’re right- we see campaigns not to use other words, but no one talks about this any more. But apparently, ignorance never really dies.

    UGH.

  81. My kids, especially my son, sometimes ask questions about why other people look different them they do, but they don’t recognize people for how they look. My kids wouldn’t know that word if they heard it. That’s why I often forget that such hurtful, racist things are even said these days. But sadly, they are. It boggles my mind that a fourth grader would even know that word!

    I’m sorry you and your son have to deal with this, but I am quite proud that you didn’t kick someone’s ass.

  82. Awful. No words. I cringe when I think about anyone using this word. Unacceptable.

  83. Aww, crap. I’m so sorry this happened to him…and to you as a family. I wish I had words to make it all better, but nothing will make it better until it just stops happening. All judging, all name calling, all discrimination.

    It appalls me that someone that age even knows that word. My kids have never heard that word uttered…at least by no one in their family.

    So sad.

  84. Your son did not deserve this. And I think it’s completely acceptable to raise this to the principal of the school. I have no tolerance for this crap. And if my privileged white kids ever said something like this, you better believe we’d be visiting the person they spoke to and I would be begging for forgiveness. And then I’d find out where my kids learned this type of abusive language from and let that kid/parent know it’s not OK. We, as parents, are responsible for stopping this crap.

    The Dalai Lama had on his facebook page recently “If we can manage to refrain from harming others in our everyday actions and words, we can start to give more serious attention to actively doing good, and this can be a source of great joy and inner confidence. We can benefit others through our actions by being warm and generous toward them, by being charitable, and by helping those in need.”

    I think this teaching needs to be spread far.

  85. I’m so proud of your son for his response. It just proves how great of a mother you are :) This was a beautiful & powerful post that I agree with 100%! Ignorance is NOT bliss in this situation. I also agree with the latter comments about how people just *assume* you know not to use ‘the word’. But how can our kids possibly know if we don’t teach them???
    p.s. new reader right here :)

  86. Veronica Raz says:

    His parents need to be aware of this! Ugh…it makes me mad that this is still happening!

  87. Lisa @lybliss says:

    Second comment from me.. I also think that the use of that word by rap artists and african american actors etc does not help in any way. I am in Austrralia and it can appear that ‘that word’ no longer holds the negative essence of the past. To many ( including myself ), but particularly young people, it appears that it is used as a term of kinship or brotherhood, not a negative slur, as that is how it is used in music and many films. There needs to be zero tolerance from all to make that word obselete.

    • I totally agree with your comment! It’s very hard to teach our children how hurtful that word is/can be when all the music media around them uses it constantly.

  88. Holy crap, I’m floored by this. I saw your post link on Twitter and had no idea of your background or where this was headed, and when I read it, my stomach dropped. To clarify, I’m a white middle class chick and live in my own bubble most of the time, so I did assume both of those things – everyone knows not to say it, and no one says it anymore. Ironically, I’m in the middle of reading “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” right now, and I flinch every time I read it in print; it’s thrown around so casually. Your son sounds like an amazing person, and I’m so sorry he had to experience this. Your post was powerfully written, and I hope things got straightened out with the kid at school.

  89. You’re right on so many different levels. As a black mom, I read what you wrote and nodded my head with agreement and was saying, “Yes, me too” in a lot of places. My children understand the power that word holds, and I am grateful that they haven’t Ben on the receiving end of it (yet). What gets me is the attitude my 8th grade students have about it. It has been overused so colloquially by our youth that I’ve actually seen white students use the word and there is NO reaction. As one student told me a couple of weeks ago, “What? It’s what I am.” She literally had no clue. She thought it just meant “black.” I couldn’t help byut wonder about what WASN’T going on at home that she didn’t even know enough to realize that she she should have been pissed. At the very least, offended.

    My oldests (g/b twins) are also age 10. I’m trying to teach them our history and where we’ve come from as a people so that they can be vigilant, but not jaded. The TrayvonMartin Martin tragedy was sobering for me, because it’s made me realize a completely different angle that we have to consider in my boys’ ethnic education.

    • Long before I started sitting around my house in pajamas, crying over blog posts that make my heart ache, I was an English teacher in Houston. My Title I school was in a very, very poor and gang-ridden part of town.

      And so many of my ninth-graders were the same way, using the word flippantly as a part of their every day conversations. Because, as one of my gorgeous and smart Pre-AP students told me, “Ms. Lacy, it isn’t a big deal. It is just what we call each other.”

      I am not black — well, only a teensy-weensy bit, along with all the other ethnicities and races in my garbled ancestry — but my nephew is a beautiful biracial little boy who looks a lot like your sweet dudes, Amanda. And it is a HUGE deal to me when I hear that word… my nephew heard that word, used to describe HIM, when he was a preschooler.

      A preschooler.

      And the person who said it was a grown-a$$ adult.

      You wanna see an auntie lose her ever lovin’ mind?

      Use that word around me. Let me catch you belittling someone for the color of their skin. Because I will not be afraid to set you straight on the ugliness of that word.

      Because I wasn’t there to stand up for my (then) three year old nephew when someone called him that.

      Your post, Amanda, breaks my heart. I hate this for your kids… my old students … and for my nephew. And I hate that it has taken the tragic, senseless, and STUPID loss of a child’s life for everyone to realize the silent secret in our country.

  90. I am proud to call you my friend. And not just because I think you’d be able to back me up in an alleyway fight.

    I’m so sad that this happened – but you are right, just when we think we’ve taken so many steps forward, then reminders creep out that there is so much ignorance that remains….it’s heartbreaking and so maddening…

    Well done and good for you for putting it all out there. And Dude #1….he sounds like a remarkable kid. No doubt due to you. You really are such a fantastic writer…curse words and all Mama. :-)

  91. Oh.My.God. I’m so sorry and angry that this happened. But I am glad you blogged about it. Give me a stick too.

  92. You have way more restraint than I, which is often why I’ve said I would have made a horrible slave & wouldn’t have lived long back in those days. That would have been a “get in the car & drive to the school” moment for me & I may have regretted it.

    I pray whoever said that to your son didn’t understand the horrors around the word coming out of his mouth, and upon thinking about it further, he will apologize to your son.

    I know that’s “when pigs fly thinking”, but that would be all that would keep me from drop kicking that kid’s parent or whoever is responsible for teaching the kid that word into the next century.

  93. Mmm I echo one of the other comments. Very well written, raw, and honest. So sorry your family has to go through this.

    Dude #1 sounds like a wonderful kid with fantastic parents. xo

  94. Hear, hear!

    It sickens me to know that your child, and so many other children, have to suffer through this in this day and age. And that some parents clearly have not educated their children in this exact issue you talk about.

    Know that I’m here, applauding you for standing up and saying so.

  95. I’m so sorry that your son had to deal with this total punk! And I’m sorry that you have been called that word as well in the past. I have tried to teach my girls the importance of our words. That our words can build up & tear down. It is my prayer that they NEVER use that word. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I know it wasn’t easy!

  96. Lisa @lybliss says:

    Oh this makes my heart hurt. First that you and your little dude have been confronted in this way, and second that some other little boy has influences ( and not necessarily his mom or dad, but influences) who have put these vile words and thoughts in his head. High five for your son for not even thinking he was talking to him.. that is awesome and evidence of you teaching him that he is not defined by skin colour. And you are right, I think that we assume that everyone already knows and respects the vileness of this word. Seems that memories are short. xxx

    • Dumb Mom says:

      He loves high fives! And, looking on the bright side I was super happy when I heard it didn’t even phases him. We have some educating to do, but at least he knows how awesome he is already!

  97. Very well written, raw and honest post! Everything you wrote needed to be said. Thanks for your voice. Xoxo

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Thanks for reading it. I feel like the powerful part of all of this is the support we’ve received. Proves that all is not lost!

  98. I think I love you after this post. You are far kinder than I would have been if I had written this. And? Your son not engaging with the boy was the best thing he could have done. He’s an awesome kid. :)

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Aw, thanks, Desiree! I think I love you for saying I have an awesome son. I guess this means you didn’t see us at the zoo last week:)!. Thanks for leaving such a nice comment. Means a ton!

  99. Oh my gosh Amanda– this makes me mad for you–for him–and I am SO glad you wrote it. What gets me is that often, kids repeat things their parents say, with no idea what it means or how hurtful it is–until one day, they actually start to believe in these things, because it is “how they grew up.” You are right, these issues still exist. and need to stop. now. right now.

  100. Wow, that really sucks. My boys are bi-racial also, (I’m of European descent and my husband is Native American) so I have been careful not to pin hole them into any stereotype. Sounds to me like you’ve done a good job mom, based on your sons response.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      Yeah, my Dudes see color but only so far as it’s a descriptor, to distinguish one person from the next. Like, oh the peach guy, or the dark brown guy. I’ve felt conflicted about explaining more to them than that; because I didn’t want to take away their innocence. But, I guess I need to inform them so they can also be protected. Ignorance isn’t always bliss!

  101. Oh this gives me chills and makes me furious. I wish none of our kids, or anyone for that matter, was seen for anything other than the person they are underneath their skin or that the skin they are in makes them that much better because of the history they have overcome and what we can all learn from each other. Ugh. Furious.

  102. Becca - Our Crazy Boys says:

    I am so, so sorry that your son had to listen to his ignorant classmate. And I am so, so thankful that you chose to write about it. It’s a reminder to me to talk with my kids (again) about the words they choose, and about how hurtful words can be.

    I am hoping that this little boy just didn’t know what the word meant. That he was confused, or just didn’t know better. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that’s not really the case.

    I truly don’t know what else to say other than I am so sorry.

  103. You were right to write this. I mean, we know you’re always right but you were especially right here.

    • Dumb Mom says:

      I am printing this comment and putting on my bathroom mirror. So Dumb Dad and I can both be reminded of the fact that I am always right!

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