Today during casual conversations my 9 year old son and his best friend told me this event. Two weeks ago another friend (white, let’s call him Fred) made a rap song and shared with those boys in his small circle (2 out of 5 are minorities but no blacks). The song went like this: “black people suck, they suck less than a buck, they suck, suck, suck….” The rap shocked those boys and they scolded Fred for racism and made him stop. This incident touched a sensitive nerve of mine, so that I probed my son and his friend for more intelligence. I know Fred pretty well. He is nice to his friends and respectful to adults. Fred has some anger issues so that he took out from certain kids including his younger brother. In the same week the only black boy at 3rd grade was suspended for two weeks as a result of repeated kicking of another boy on his private part. Therefore Fred made the rap to bash the blacks in general. Apparently he made himself a fool and received scolding from his friends.
I immediately thought of the Peter Liang case. The black boy made a mistake and had been penalized with suspension. He should not be further penalized by receiving the outrageous rap. The black boy was spared from undue penalty by his friends which were properly taught by the school system. The difference in Liang’s case is he was not as lucky due to a corrupt system, the NYC government. The different treatments the black boy and Liang received amplify the importance of good systems. Bad systems make much harder to prevent damages to the societies and the people in them. Many schools are good but not flawless and people are not perfect. We may all be Fred or victimized by Fred once in a while. In those less than desirable situations minorities are usually more vulnerable. We all want our kids to have fun and prosper at school. I summarized the following ideas for young minority students and their parents to consider.
1. Assimilation is a powerful tool. Usually kids don’t have English issues. They may need to become culturally closer to the mainstream. Team sports or other group activities are effective means to help them blend into the environments different from their families. Kids are usually keen on what they need to do to be included. Immigrant parents lack of school experience at USA may need to pay extra attention to their kids behaviors and requests. Listen to your kids.
2. Make efforts to influence the systems. Decent US schools have high standards of fair play rules and little tolerance on bully. At school kids need to learn and practice how to raise attention and work with the authorities such as the teachers to seek protection or fairness.
3. Create alliances with other minority students. Recognize other Chinese, Indians or blacks can be your allies on certain issues. If seeing unfairness to other minorities, you should help them. That is good for you as well. My son’s grade there are less than 10% non-white students. I asked him to try to become acquainted with those minority students. At times they may need to unite for larger impact.
4. Make friends in general. Friends make each other happy and help each other out. The fact you have friends shields you from being picked on by bullies.
5. Know your status as a minority,. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and find your unique paths to your goals. Not every Chinese kids like to stay quiet and like only math and science. The Chinese kids are just as diverse as other races.
Lastly I think we should teach our young kids how to live happy and fulfilling lives. Everybody just gets to live once, and this is one of the few things that are absolutely fair regardless of race, gender or the family you are born into.