Kids Can Teach Adults A Thing Or Two On Ethnic Relations

“Black Thunder” and ‘White Lightning.”

Those are the nicknames my son and his best friend, who is, you guessed it, White, came up with for each other at school during one of their classes last year. Even the teacher in the class plays along and refers to them as such. They have such fun with it. I get a kick out of it myself.

For one thing, I love that they are not so caught up in political correctness that it is an issue for them to notice their differences and have fun with it. Some might find that kind of nicknaming racist or inappropriate. It is not. It is something they came up with and they have fun with. There is no negative value associated with either term. It is just fun.

The other part of this that is also interesting is how my son embraces being called Black. We have always emphasized to him that he is both Black and Mexican-American, since he is 50% of both me and his mother. We have said he does not have to give into societal pressure to pick one of us as his ethnic identifier. And yet we have also made it clear that he should not be surprised when those around him picked for him, and when they did, he would be Black, regardless of his mother. Take Obama, whose White mother is not a factor when people speak of our Black President.

I have noticed my son has on other occasions referred to himself as Black, with great pride. That’s great. I am glad he embraces that. And I also hope, and I do think this is true, that he feels just as comfortable switching and referring to himself as Mexican. Actually, once or twice he has described his identity as Blaxican.

Good for him that he is so comfortable with his identity that he is able to find ways to utilize both cultures and move between them so well. And good for his circle at school that they can have fun with ethnic and color differences, without injecting heavy social issues into the mix.

Progress indeed.

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