Let's just nip that in the bud.

I don't care how cute they are. I don't care that the word's an endearment to some. No one is allowed to call my kid "monkey."

I just had one of those weird moments as an African American parent, where I had to shut down someone who meant well before they did any lasting damage to The Boy.

Today The Boy and I encountered someone who loves The Boy to pieces, someone who likes to steal kisses from his cheek, tickle him and generally tell him he's adorable. But this morning, she ran her fingers through The Boy's curls and greeted him with, "Hi, monkey!"

And instantly my brain broke in half. One half said, "it's just an endearment!" while struggling to block the other half from attacking the speaker. But the other half got free and, showing some restraint, opened my mouth to say, "I'd really appreciate you not calling him that."

The speaker was surprised (she's kinda young) and said, "Really?" "Anything but that," I replied. And the world continued spinning on its axis.

It's clear that she meant no harm, but she's also old enough to learn equating African Americans to monkeys is enough to get you sent to HR for a talking-to, at the very least. You don't have to look too far into the past to find someone calling black people monkeys. Go back, oh, less than a month.

Woman protests racial slur on t-shirts sold at bar in background.
Photo credit: Frank Niemeir, Atlanta Journal Constitution

And yet I felt like I'd been slightly harsh today. Even though I was just deflecting an unacceptable comment away from The Boy. Man, I wish I could talk to my parents right now.
Posted on June 11, 2008 and filed under "biracial parenting", "mixed race kids".