According To Candace Ray
School children (8-10) in front of map

The Race Factor

I had a chance to hang with my niece Denasha yesterday. She’s definitely one of my favorite people to be around. My nieces and nephews are some of my favorite people in this world and each one holds a special place with me. Denasha seems to be the one most like me and the shadow of the 10. Yes, 10 nieces and nephews and none of my own yet. She’s glued at my hip and mirrors me as a child as if I birthed her myself.

Life is truly simple to her. Everything is beautiful and a grand discovery. She comes up with ideas for fun and presents it as if she’s the first person to ever come up with it. It’s the cutest thing. I always gain new perspective when I’m with her. She doesn’t complain about anything or require much. She smiles as if it costs her nothing and gives like she has an infinite supply. At 5, she has a great big heart and I love that about her. I pray it never changes.

On our quality time date, I took her to the playground and let her run free. She’s the youngest in her house and there’s not much opportunity for her to play with kids her own age. When she does, it’s a party. She never hesitates to find a buddy and rule the monkey bars.

As I watch her run, laugh, and initiate games with kids she doesn’t know, it warms my heart. Innocence at its finest! The kids at the playground are all different. You have different races, ethnicities, social status, backgrounds, ages, schools, and neighborhoods. No one is like the other. However, none of that matters to any of them. They don’t see each other as different or inferior. It doesn’t matter where the other one comes from or how dark or light they are. All they care about is what game they’re playing, who’s it and how much time they have before someone’s mom calls them to go home.

It’s simple for them. Yet for us, it’s become hard. At what point did we start to see each other for who we appear to be instead of who we are. Who initiated the race and ethnicity card in our lives? Was it the teacher who first showed us examples of shapes and sizes, Was it the woman we saw walking down the street scowling and clutching her purse and pearls as a tall dark man passed her by, or was it the man we heard yelling profanities about any and everyone who wasn’t the same race as he? When did my black become a factor for you? When did that start to mean that I didn’t know as much, couldn’t do as much, and wasn’t worth as much?

We can all learn something from children. The innocence and willingness to interact shows us that hate is a learned behavior. Negative behavior and treatment is taught. A child isn’t born with an automatic notion to hate, belittle discriminate. They don’t initially see what they’re raised to see. Imagine if we taught our children to continue to love without limits, trust without stereotypical suspicion, and to care without expectation! What an amazing world that would be.


Maybe another lifetime then……


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