“So Mom, the black guy is bad and the white guys all just work for him?”
The Midget was wrapped in an intense display of heavy construction equipment strewn across the whole of our living room when he chirped out the above phrase. I did a quick survey of the room hoping he was talking about something on television – but alas it was off.
Exasperated, he looked up from his wealth of new birthday booty and said, “I said, the black guy is bad and the white guys all work for him. Is that right?”
My heart sank. It was an R&B-loving, Soul-Train-watching mother’s worst nightmare coming true. My son was a racial profiler. I was sick with both dread and disbelief. I feared that life in a tiny white town could spawn this, but I thought I’d put enough work in during the early years to combat it. Apparently not.
My immediate reaction was to blame his preschool. Spending day in and day out with nothing but a bunch of white kids and a little too much camouflage can take a toll. I’d like the record to state that from the onset, I wasn’t comfortable with the set-up. I told the Turk we needed to get him into the nearby city to a good liberal and diverse preschool, but no. He thought our community preschool was just fine. The same preschool where my blue-eyed blond, half breed Midget is flaunted as the token diversity! Back in Philadelphia, he was just another white kid with a funny name and a dad with an accent but here, he is the go-to guy for all things cultural. One fine day, a teacher asked, “We were wondering if your family could tell us a little bit about how they celebrate Thanksgiving in Turkey.” Seriously? Yes, seriously. Following my brief explanation regarding the hows and whys of the Mayflower ‘s failure to yet arrive in Istanbul, I was determined that we find a new school. But the Turk said, “No we stay here. We teach them.” Or maybe it was, “Why we drive him 15 miles each way - to preschool when this one is right next to our house and gas is expensive.” Regardless, he won. He knows I’m a frugal lass and saving a dollar is the fastest way into my heart. But now I see the money saved will have to be spent on sending the Midget into some type of Deprogramming!
I was certain that this racial profiling was only a gateway drug. He was on the precipice of full-on redneckism. If the affliction took hold, he would be dressed in head to toe camouflage, sporting a wiry beard and using duct tape as a wonder tool in mere months. How did this happen? Was this even possible? After all, he wasn’t really an American by redneck standards- he wasn’t born in the US – he didn’t get citizenship until later and who ever heard of a foreign redneck? How could he be a redneck when our friends and family circle looks like the freakin’ league of nations – black, white, latino, Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, gays, lesbians, trannys – he knows ‘em all! His mother doesn’t let him wear camo or play with guns. He can’t be a redneck, he has a gay, black godfather! He can’t be a redneck, we have a library card! For godssake, he can’t be a redneck, we drive a Hyundai!
Was this my fault? Was the redneck gene recessive and somehow, the same gene that turned my brother into a redneck had resurfaced in the Midget? Did his father let him watch Swamp People when I wasn’t home? Was the monster truck I’d bought him for his birthday to blame? What was next? Would he begin handfishing? Would he ask me to build a duckblind and paint his bike helmet with camo spray paint? Oh god no, would he ask me to vote for Santorum?
As my chest began to tighten, he looked up at me and said,
"So Mom, I’m trying to understand. The black guy is bad and the white guys all just work for him. And the hairy guy is nice but he can’t talk. Right? But he can fight the white guys. What are they called – Stormtrackers?”
As he batted those sweet blue eyes, it became clear. The black guy – Darth Vader, is in fact bad and yes, the white Stormtrackers – when they are not searching out tornadoes – do work for him and no, the hairy guy – Chewbacca- can’t talk but he is a good guy.
Racism thwarted. Just a recap of Return of the Jedi.
May the Force be With You little buddy.