We all know the metaphor about the frog that doesn’t realize it’s being boiled if you turn up the water one degree at a time. It’s often true, but there is a sure-fire way to make a mama frog notice the temperature of the water. Throw her tadpoles in.
When I was driving my son to school a few years ago, I asked what he thought he would like to do over the weekend. “I think I’ll lay out and get a tan,” he replied. Since that struck me as a strange thing for a seven-year-old-boy to want to do, I inquired further.
“What made you want to do that?”
He explained that Jerome, a popular, athletic classmate, said they could not be friends because “your skin is too light.”
I wanted to cry. Not just because my son had felt the sting of rejection, which was bad enough, but because I realized that I had failed him.
Like all good middle-class White Americans, I had dutifully raised my son to be color-blind. We never used slurs, made racial generalizations, or voiced any kind of preconceptions based on race. We rarely even mentioned anyone’s race, except as a physical description.
How foolish I was not to realize that only white children were programmed not to think about race. How heartbreaking that my naive child was not prepared for the reality that he would be hated because he is white. “I think Jerome doesn’t want to be your friend because you’re white.” I cautiously said. “You know, there’s nothing wrong with being white.” There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.
“Well, if he thinks black people are better, I’ll just tell him that white people invented all the cool stuff and ruled over everyone else and were the first on the moon! So there!”
I felt a stab of fear. HE DIDN’T KNOW NOT TO SAY THAT? I scarcely allowed myself to think such things, much less SAY them aloud. He didn’t know that if he said or even implied that he was proud to be white, he would be branded with a scarlet “R,” possibly face the wrath of teachers and school administrators, or, Heaven forbid, Jerome and his friends might decide that the uppity white boy deserved to be put in his place with a beat-down.
I then faced the parenting challenge of explaining to my son that he must never, ever utter his (completely honest and accurate) observation in front of anyone other than family. PROMISE ME YOU WON’T SAY THAT AT SCHOOL!
After dropping him off, I started to think. What kind of world is my son in now? How have things gotten so upside-down that Jerome can taunt my son for being white, but he cannot defend himself because simply saying that he has plenty to be proud of (that is, telling the truth) would be too dangerous?
This is wrong.
I discovered through social media that flamekeepers of the light of Western Civilization still exist. I learned, or began to recall, our political, cultural, philosophical, and religious heritage. So many people, each guarding their own piece of the wisdom and beauty of the past that they hold dear. All the gifts of our forbears, forgotten and trodden upon by the modern world, cherished and protected by wise, kind, gifted people. Humorous, brave, insightful people. People who were beginning to reassert forbidden truths, the wisdom of tradition, the divine beauty rejected by the modern world.
I began to see my duty to contribute to the celebration and preservation of our amazing cultural heritage. As a mother, instilling this appreciation in my children is the most important contribution that I can make.
We found another school for my son, one where the unique and extraordinary contributions of Western Christendom can be spoken above a whisper, and without apology. We have dusted off old books, and watch old TV shows and movies.
“Grandpa’s old books are really cool,” my son told me recently, to my delight.
There is a daunting battle to be fought to preserve our way of life. I know the fight will continue after I am gone.
My children will be ready.