Today at some point, Anders commented about being the only white kid around at times. I asked him how it makes him feel. He said he doesn't always like it because it makes him feel different.
He doesn't really have "labels" yet. He refers to some people as having brown skin or others looking like Lauren (who is of Korean descent) or Nu (who is Hmong). So he does notice differences. But he also notices when he is the one who is different.
We talked about how everyone was created by God--so we're all the same. But we're all unique as well--so we're all different. Even though he may feel different because he is the only white kid at the wading pool, everyone else has differences, too.
This morning I hung out with a pastor friend at his son's soccer camp. He's African American and lives more on the south side of Minneapolis. So at the soccer camp, his son (who is in Anders' Sunday School class) was one of the few brown-skinned kids there. I shared this with Anders, and we talked about how his friend is often the only brown-skinned kid in many situations.
In the boys' children's Bible tonight we read some of "The Teachings of Jesus" (paraphrases of the Sermon on the Mount). The first one was "The Golden Rule": treat others the way you would want to be treated. So we discussed how we would want to be treated by others. We talked about how none of us want to be left out or ignored, so we need to make sure we're not leaving others out.
Our trouble comes not when we notice the color of someone else's skin (because even young children notice that there are differences--we can't be color blind); the trouble comes when we are unable to put ourselves in their shoes and "do unto others." We can only empathize when we get to know others.
Racism is still around. Even the the boys and I have experienced it, being called "honkies" and "crackers" one day while walking to the park. Racism comes out of fear and anger. We're called to love. Even if we aren't like anyone else around us. That's a lesson I'm learning as I teach it to my kids.