Baumhower: Brown is the new black and that’s all white with meWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
My tow-headed, blue-eyed, 5-year-old daughter Joeli walked into the kitchen while I was making dinner recently.
“Dad, can we celebrate Kwanzaa this year?” she queried.
“What exactly is Kwanzaa?” I quizzed her.
“Oh, you know … it’s brown people’s Christmas,” Joeli answered.
As I giggled at her most innocent, politically undefined answer, I came to the conclusion that her kindergarten class must have discussed all of the various holidays that day in school.
“Oh. I see. Will we be celebrating Kwanzaa instead of Christmas?” I asked.
“Dad, I thought we could celebrate both!” Joeli replied, revealing her motives for asking.
As a Catholic family, Christmas is the one day of the year my three youngest children discuss the rest of the 364 days. I would love to hold on to the notion that my children’s religious beliefs would cause such a dedication to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, but I am no fool. My kids are little consumer junkies whose only incomes revolve around birthdays, losing teeth and Christmas.
Later, when I was reflecting on Joeli’s description of Kwanzaa as a “brown people’s Christmas,” I found hope for our future. Not because she was trying to figure out a way to get double the gifts, but because she described people by the way she saw them, as “brown.”
To some of you, using the word “brown” to describe a person is probably offensive, but when taken in the context of it coming from a blond-haired, doe-eyed, real-life version of Cindy Lou Who it is not. It’s hopefully a sign of the future.
To be honest, I don’t have many black or African-American friends I see on a regular basis, so my children’s version of the world is mostly a “white” version. So when Joeli started kindergarten this year, she got her first look at different worlds than the one she was used to. In fact, the first thing she said to me after her first day of school was she had two “brown” kids in her class and they were her new friends. My gut reaction was to immediately correct her, but she said her description with no malice, no judgment, no hate. Joeli proclaimed the color “brown” like another crayon in her box.
After further discussion, Joeli was satisfied with us celebrating Christmas our usual way, where a fat man in a red suit climbs down our chimney with a sack full of presents and does this all for a plate of cookies and a promise of good behavior.
This generation of children could be the first to demonstrate the results of political correctness. There is no Archie Bunker, no Al Bundy and nearly every TV show, whether reality or scripted, drama or comedy, is very diverse in its casting. It’s really easy to complain that political correctness has changed our lives; you have to watch what you say. Well, isn’t that the point? Should we really tell a joke where we have to look around first to see if we are in the right company?
My generation, aka “Generation X,” is the “look around first before you tell the joke” group. Our parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, are the “I am sorry but this was how I was raised” apologizers and our grandparents are from a different time altogether. This next generation of children, the Xbox or Wii Generation, will hopefully just see people for what they are — people.
I am raising four kids, but I never really sat down and penned an outline of what beliefs I would implement in their lives. I am not a perfect parent, nor do I pretend to be in front of my children. I make mistakes — I swear excessively, I have mini-meltdowns where I go crazy about the smallest of things — but I love unconditionally. I am raising them to love life and each other.
We do not discuss race in the house because it’s irrelevant. Trust me, I’m an incredibly “judgy” person, but I do not use skin color or religion in my equations — my judgments are based on character, intelligence and heart.
Don’t get me wrong; I still dislike a ton of people. I just allow them to earn it.
As soon as Joeli was informed Santa Claus is not a part of the celebrations of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, she thought we should just continue to honor Jesus’ birthday. O
Email Media Watch columnist Jeremy Baumhower at email@example.com.