Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Everyone's Welcome" is Cute, but Not Reality

My first thought when I saw the commercial of the little kids talking about their differences was, "gosh those kids are cute, but this isn't true."  If you don't know what commercial I talking about, you can view it here:

First off, the commercial reads as propaganda because we are only shown the clips and bits that the creators wanted us to see, and the creators clearly had an agenda.  We don't know what questions the children were asked or what all they talked about, we simply know what they wanted us to see.

Second off, we have to ask ourselves, "why?"  Why did the creators want us to believe that kids don't see different races or differently abled bodies?  What purpose does that serve?  This is a key point, because the creators clearly saw nothing wrong with the kids seeing and knowing other differences about themselves, but for some reason, it was so great that they didn't see the outward differences.

The motive behind that isn't actually helpful.  For a lot of adults it FEELS helpful.  How wonderful if we could all just not truly see our differences!  If they could be so inconsequential as to not be noticed, wouldn't that be great.  But what its really saying is far more problematic.  Its saying that these differences are not ok to notice, or virtuous to not notice.  This leads one to think or believe said differences don't have actual value or impact on the lives of those who bear the non-majority appearance.  And this is quite simply, not true.

In the last month I've had to deal with my kids being called the N word by online trolls, a neighbor accusing my 4-year-old of theft and calling him "that Black boy", bullies at school telling my daughter that White people are bad and Black people are good, multiple breakdowns about wanting our family to all match, and untold questions and looks from people (both kids and adults) in public as they try to make sense of our family.

And that is just in our tiny family that still gets to reside under an umbrella of White privilege due to my husband's and my race.  This isn't touching on the systemic inequalities faced by both people of color and non-able bodied individuals, which is where the true injustice is happening.

So before you applaud this commercial's lack of acknowledgment, remember that it actually hurts those around you who are not in the majority.  I promise that race is a constant part of our everyday, not because we choose for it to be by talking about it, but because it simply is.  There is no avoiding it.  No one in our lives doesn't see the different colors of the people in our family, including our own children.  And those differences have massive impact on their daily lives already.  So if the children around them are being taught that its best not to notice, then they aren't noticing the beauty or the hurt either.

Embrace reality over cute kids and a colorblind utopia of sorts; because minority communities don't have the option to not do so.