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Black History Month and The Things That Keep You Up At Night

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

Most times I write about things that are warm and fuzzy.

I'm humorous. People love humor. I write humorous things too.

But every now and again things happen that reveal the flawed side of humanity.

And they happen at the most ironic of times.

You can't ignore the instance and the timing even if you tried.

And I tried.

But writing is therapy for me.

So welcome to my therapy session, Ted Talk, and honesty rant all in one.

I've tossed and turned for two nights.

I woke up Thursday night at 4am.

And I woke up Friday night at 2am.

My mind rehearsed the encounter I'd had Thursday.

And I realized that not only was I still processing it, but I was not over it.

I knew that I'd need to pray through the lingering emotions.

And I was truly troubled.

Our power went out Thursday morning due to one of the worst ice storms to ever hit Michigan around 10am.

The assumption was that it would come on soon.

But as the day lingered on, and my kids began acting bat crazy being stuck in the house (school was cancelled), I realized that my devices were running low on power, and they would go insane if they didn't get out of the house.

So I packed my laptop, charger, and kids up in the car and took them up to the local Air Park to jump and play while I finished out my day of work.

After finally getting everything plugged in and charging, I started working feverishly to capitalize on catching up on work that had been delayed due to us not having power.

I pounded away on my keyboard, head down, making hedge way, when Cadence came over and let me know that Haven was having trouble in the dodge ball pit with another kid.

Cadence said: "I told Haven that she needs to leave. It's a boy over there calling her FAT."

I instantly got upset.

I was upset at the boy. But I was more upset at Haven.

Every time that we go to this air park, Haven goes to the dodge ball pit.

The dodge ball pit is usually full of boys.

Haven is my more athletic child.

She likes playing with boys for this reason.

But she still has the temperament of a girl.

Little boys are a different breed.....especially around the ages of 8-14.

They can be little jerks.

They're much rougher than girls. They also have different humor and idea of what is appropriate. It fits with the fellas, but not with the gals.

I've told Haven that I'd prefer for her to play with other girls at the air park.

But I've told her that if she decides to still go to the dodge ball pit, that I do not want her to come to me complaining if she gets beamed in the face with a ball, or if they use gruff language with her.

Her Dad and I have reinforced the notion to her that boys are different.

Her Dad has even confessed to being a former jerk.

I was a bit of a jerk too. I was like Haven. I was athletic. I played with boys because they were much more fun with physical activities and sports.

And I had a mouth. I would taunt kids. I knew how to get people going. I was the one to play dodge ball and definitely beam you right in the face. It was kill or be killed. It came with the game.

I totally understand her attraction to the dodge ball pit!

But Haven is sensitive. I have had to teach her the art of shrugging things off, putting people in their place, and the appropriate clap-back for offenses. This did not come natural to her at first.

Cadence on the other hand, came out with it in her bones.

So as I'm contemplating whether or not I should go over to the dodge ball pit to check on Haven, I told Cay:

"You know....this is a recurring thing with Haven. If Haven wants to stay over there with someone that would talk to her that way, that's her choice. I'll wait and see what she decides."

Two minutes later I see Haven coming down the ramp holding back tears.

As she walked towards me with her bottom lip trembling, I felt my anxiety instantly rising.

She couldn't even slide in the booth good enough before I was asking her what happened.

With tears in her eyes, she said:

"A little boy called me fat, stuck up his middle finger at me, and called me a BLACK MONKEY."

A WHAT?!?!?!?!?!

I could feel the shock and horror on my face.

I knew that this was no longer just kids play, or "boys being boys".

I knew that this could not go unaddressed.

In most cases, calling a girl fat and middle finger is normal for little boys. It's bad. But it goes with little boy behavior.

But to call anyone of African American decent a monkey, and a "black monkey" at that, was a racial slur.

And I just couldn't let it slide.

I calmly asked Haven to explain to me what happened so that I could gather the story correctly.

I then asked her to show me which little boy it was.

She pointed behind me and said: "Mommy he came with them.", pointing at the booth directly behind me.

I said: "Are you sure?"

She said: "Yes, it's the little boy with the white, Nike shirt on."

That's when my mind went back to when we'd first got there.

As I worked, I'd heard the same little boy interacting with his mom behind me.

The whole conversation had a serious undertone of disrespect.

He had to be every bit of 8 or 9.

And the way he questioned his mom about money for water was rude.

I remembered thinking to myself: "He's a brat." (I'm just being honest.)

And I also remembered thinking that she was talking back to him with the attitude you'd give an adult, not a child.

He was not put in his place.

It was obvious that this was their norm.

This was peer conversation, not parent and child.

So before saying anything to his mom, I closed my laptop and instructed Cay to sit there and watch my belongings.

I told Haven to take me over to the dodge ball pit and show me the little boy.

We walked over, and I tapped him on the shoulder.

He turned around and instantly looked shocked to see me standing there.

I bent down so that we were eye level.

I did not want to appear aggressive or intimidating by towering over him.

I said: "Did you call my daughter a black monkey?"

One of the things that I do really well is read people.

I'm always looking for your instinctive response, the one that you have before trying to revert to the one that helps you to cover and present something else.

It's much easier to read children.

They are still learning lying skills.

And they are feverishly honest.

I could see guilt and fear in his eyes, then it turned to defensiveness.

He started twisting his fingers, his shoulders raised, then he said:


I turned to Haven, who had pure shock on her face.

She screamed: "What?!? No I didn't!"

I know when Haven is lying.

She's a terrible liar....TERRIBLE.

Haven was not lying.

Her response was genuine.

She had not called him a white monkey.

I turned back to him, and said: "My daughter does not even talk that way."

Then he and Haven went back and forth.

And I stopped them from talking, and looked him in the eyes.

I said: "Do you understand that what you said was really bad? I'm not going to keep talking to you. I'm going to go over and talk with your Mother."

He looked at me unapologetic, and defended himself.

He stood by his lie.

I don't believe that you confront and check other people's children without them there.

I also believe that adults should deal with adults.

I would not want anyone questioning and checking my child without my knowledge.

And I knew that I was too upset to keep talking to him.

He also had the temperament of a child that lacks discipline. He looked me in my face, lied, then doubled down on a lie.

He did it without thought.

He did it emphatically.

This child does this all the time.

There was no doubt in my mind that I would not be able to get anywhere in conversation with him.

And after recounting his conversation with his mom, I knew that he either had troubled behavior, or very limited boundaries.

I needed to go directly to his mom.

When I got back to the table his mom was sitting behind me on the phone.

I spoke to Haven, gave her a pep talk, and told her and Cay to go play.

I told her to stay away from the dodge ball pit.

And I waited for his Mom to get off the phone.

While waiting, I saw the little boy turning around periodically, wringing his hands, and checking to see if I were talking to his mom.

This was a good sign to me as a parent.

It showed his guilt, it also showed that he at least feared his mother enough to be worried that I was going to talk to her.

He also did not come over to his own mom to tell that I'd said something to him.

For a child, this screams guilty.

I know that my own kids would have INSTANTLY come to me to tell me that another child had lied on them to their parent, and that the parent questioned them.

The fact that he stayed where he was, and was checking for his impending doom sealed what I knew.


This gave me time to calm down some and think through my approach.

By nature, I am very even tempered. I am not irrational. I think through everything before doing anything. I am resolution oriented. I am not one to vent. If it does not lead to resolution, it's a wasted thought, idea, or action.

I do not go off just to go off.

I do not lose my temper.

I actually really love God.

I reverence his spirit inside of me.

I take this seriously.

This is my governance.

This is how I have come to live.

This is how I will continue to live.

When she got off the phone, I turned around very politely, but I'm sure that I was visibly upset. My face and voice was polite, but firm.

"Excuse me, is that your little boy in the white Nike shirt? (She nodded yes.) He called my daughter fat, stuck up his middle finger, and called her a BLACK MONKEY several times."

Before I could even get out anything else, she was already sliding out of the booth and saying:

"I'm going to go talk to him."

I politely nodded.

It felt weird.

Most parents would have continued the conversation before including children.

It just felt really weird.

I waited in the booth and kept working.

I was assuming that she'd come back, apologize, or perhaps make him apologize to Haven.

THIS is what normal, sane, embarrassed parents that hold their children accountable do.

It's what I would have done.

A few minutes later she came walking down the ramp, and before even getting to my booth, she started talking while walking towards me and said with the most defensive disposition:


Then she shrugged her shoulders and sat back down in the booth.

Her body language was defensive.

She genuinely felt that they were even.

This is when I knew things were about to go even farther left.

I turned around in my booth like lightning.

I was shaking my head so fast. And I looked this woman square in the eye.

She did not even want to look at me.

There was a lady sitting next to her that had met her there.

She was Phillipino.

This conversation was about to get very uncomfortable for her too.

At this point I felt that it was appropriate to raise my voice a few decibels to be sure that she heard me over the music and kids playing.

But I also wanted for her to look me in my face to feel my anger and disbelief.

I said:

"No Ma'am.....No Ma'am. I'm sorry, but this is not simple name calling. Your son called my daughter a Black Monkey. Please tell me that you understand the gravity of that comment. Do you understand that is racist?!?!"

Then I paused and looked at her friend sitting next to her.

She looked as uncomfortable and horrified as the mother should have.

By this time the mother is shrugging her shoulders and defending her son, talking over me and putting up her hand.

The more that she did this, the more upset I became.

The realization of the depth of the situation was hitting me.

I said: "OH! It makes sense now! You wonder where a child would even hear that term and think that it's okay to use it. Is he getting it from you?!?! He's getting it from home isn't he? Because I would be ashamed and embarrassed if another parent told me that my children were using racial slurs. But you seem just fine!"

By now her face is red.

Her friend suddenly disappeared and left her sitting there.

And I realized that I was getting so upset that it was best that I stop talking to her.

I know my limits.

I knew that my understanding was kicking into overdrive.

I was way far ahead of this conversation.

I was into present and the future.

Many believe that racism is a thing of the past, that its long gone.

But it lives in moments like this.

Let's just say that he heard the phrase on tv, or another child say it.

Let's just say that his mom is truly not racist at all.

In a moment like this, where your child uses such an offensive term, your response to the offended party is acknowledgement of the gravity of the wrong.

I was horrified that she did not acknowledge this, nor did she apologize.

She simply minimized the phrase to kids name calling.

And in doing so, she empowered her child to not only continue using the phrase, but also showed my child that there are people four times his age that think its okay.

And if she is not educated enough to understand the depth of the phrase, then she will not educate her son, and he will not educate his.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how racist thoughts and ideas live on.....through small instances at the air park that are big, but made to be small.

As I sat there continuing to work, I felt my skin crawling with anger.

I called Gayle and told him that he needed to come up to the Air Park. I explained what happened.

He came in 10 minutes.

He told me that he felt it was best that we leave because he could see my temperament.

As we gathered the girls together, I felt in my flesh and my spirit (just being honest) that she needed some parting words.

As Gayle gathered the girls to walk out the door, I walked up to her booth.

I pointed my finger and told her that if she does not teach her son the right thing, and that if she does not learn it, they will run across the wrong person one day.

I told her that she met the right person.

I told her that I love God.

I told her that my heart would not allow me to respond any further than I have.

But I told her that I know some people who would have told their kid to punch her son in the mouth, and would have dragged her from the front of this air park to the back of it.

(Honestly, in my pre-Christ days, it would have been me. She had me that upset.)

She kept waving her hand as if to say: "Whatever."

But I could see shame in her eyes.

I saw embarrassment.

And unfortunately, she was not the type of person to own up to it.

It was easier to defend it than it was to admit to it.

As I went home that night, I thought that I was fine.

But I wasn't.

I felt sad.

I also felt somewhat helpless to empower my child against further instances of this nature.

It's one thing if you hurt me.

I've had my share of racist interactions, some much worse than this one.

But it's different when it's your kids.

It's MUCH different.

You hurt for them. You hurt for the world that they are in.

You love them deeply.

And in moments where racism stares you in the face that hard, it does not matter that you've been blessed to experience love and acceptance from a million different people of varying races and ethnicities, knowing that they don't have a racist bone in their body.

You are thinking about the existence of this type of ignorance that lives in this one person that you don't even know.

And you are tempted to retaliate.

You are tempted to become someone different.

You are tempted to defend your child from something invisible that lives in the heart.

And with all the education and speech, you can't change that person that inflicted the offense.

You can only educate your child.

And sometimes that does not seem like enough.

As we end Black History Month, I understand that some feel that this month is not needed.

I know that some have worked to remove the education from history books in some school systems in an effort to erase some of the history that has effected our country.

But in moments like this, I can't help but think of the importance of teaching it to ALL school systems in the inner city and the suburbs.

Do I believe that the little boy was racist? NO. I believe he's much too young to have a solid truth on anything yet. At this age, children regurgitate what they are taught.

I believe that he could have heard the term anywhere.

But I believe when home defends or minimizes it's gravity, that is a tell-tale sign.

But with the right education in our schools, perhaps the sensitivity and social understanding can be taught in a way that produces understanding.

I believe that the majority of social understanding weighs on the parents.

But this does not negate the responsibility of our school systems, which partners with parents to prepare our children for the world.

I will be honest in saying that the feelings are still fresh.

I'm still upset.

I've prayed for her. I've prayed for him. I prayed for Haven.

But I feel powerless in some aspects to STOP this type of thinking and teaching.

So I prayed for myself.

I asked God to keep my heart clean.

I asked him to show me if I misrepresented him in any way during our interaction.

(He did. I'd called the lady "TRASH". And He brought that memory up for me to repent.)

I asked him to help me be better.

I asked him to give me tools as a parent to teach and protect my children.

The helplessness left.

I felt my empowerment.

He promised to never leave me or forsake me.

He promised to be my ever present help.

And in that moment, he was and is.

Happy Black History Month everyone.

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