Watermelon and Kool-Aid - What would you do? (boys, child, learn)
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I'm SOOOOOO confused as to why you are upset with the parents over this? I'm pretty sure you said it wasn't a formal birthday party just the kids hanging out in the backyard on a summer day? So the kid probably told their parents that they didn't want to come empty handed or that your son asked every one to bring a snack and they chose to bring watermelon.
Unless these kids parents have displayed some blatant racism towards you (in which case they probably wouldn't be dropping their child off at your house in the first place) I think they are probably just normal people and when their child decides to bring a piece of fruit large enough to share to a gathering they think of it as a hospitable gesture not some mean spirited racist joke that they have the opportunity to "get in on"
As for the joke itself, there maybe a regional and generational difference in the way I see it to the way you see it. I don't think it's a big deal but I understand that you feel offended. Perhaps you can take this opportunity to speak with your son that when making jokes that are "un-PC" it is best to make sure you are certain that your audience will not take personal offense and that your audience may include people you may not have intended (such as being overheard or someone being told at a later time).
I'm not upset with his parents. They are friends of mine - not close friends - but we've taxied each others kids back and forth and have chatted at school, football games and at the movies. I just see them a bit differently now.
The Kool-Aid and the Watermelon had a bow on them as they were giving them as gifts - not taking them to a party as in being hospitable.
The party was not at our house but at a mutual friends.
I'm over it..........really, I am. I'm respecting my son's wishes to let it go although, I'm really tempted to mention it to the young man's mom. I think for us the best thing to do is make it a teachable moment and move on.
If I decide later to mention it to his mom or parents, I'll post in this thread and let you guys know how it went.
I thinks it's a very tacky gift. The thing is if you don't say anything, the gift giver (and his clueless parents) will never know that it's a little too close to crossing the line, but kudos to you for respecting your son's wishes on this. As you said OP, it's a great teachable moment.
OP: How close are these friends and your son? Are they tight? On any teams together?
I was talking with a group of Boomers about this very subject this weekend. (I'm white. The people I was talking with included Blacks.) We were talking about things we called each other when we were growing up and in school. We called the Blacks certain names. They called us certain names. They called themselves certain names. We joked about stereotypes and foods and clothing and never thought anything of it back when we were in school. We loved each other and a joke about race here and there didn't get anyone upset..
Then the world got PC and none of us feel safe using our nick-names for each other in public 40 years later.
I'd talk to my son and take the clue from him. If these guys are really tight... it happens. BUT it has to come from love and respect and friendship.
No one would have done the watermelon thing. Too tacky for us. We'd have picked a horrible Motown album as the gag gift. I got a Polish polka album once.
I appreciate your perspective. Thanks for chiming in.
I'd have to say as a white parent, I wouldn't let my kid bring that for a present just because I understand the meaning behind it. However, I have seen a strong tendency among even my generation (early 30's) to embrace racial stereotypes among friends as a way to break down the racial barrier. The fact that your son and his friends find it humorous is quite telling as to their mindset in that regard.
I suppose I could argue that embracing stereotypes does more to dispel them and take away their power than claiming they are offensive and forbidden. This is the same argument that the African-American community has with itself over the use of the "n-word". One group argues that it's offensive and should never be used, while the younger generation (particularly hip-hop and rap) groups see it as taking away the power of the word by owning it themselves.
Perhaps it might be worth it to have the conversation with your son about the hidden meaning behind it, that it really is something offensive to many people for what it implies. However, I would temper that with saying how nice it is that he and his friends are so easily able to ignore the color barrier and share such jokes between them.
That's where I'm struggling. if it was just a gift and he said "here's a watermelon, haha" then I'd read more into it. But if it's a summer get together, why would a watermelon be offensive? We have watermelons all summer long at our groups pool parties. If we go to the home of the black families, is it really that offensive to bring a watermelon?? I mean, now I'm going to have to assume that black people just refuse to eat watermelon anymore because of the implied racism. Or at least watermelon brought by white people.
And that brings me to another question - is it still offensive if that same watermelon is spiked with vodka?
Murphy, the watermelon was presented as a gift to my son for his birthday - not as a dish brought over for all to share. He wrapped the watermelon and the kool-aid in a bow and presented them to my son as his birthday gift. This was not at our home but at the home of a mutual friend.
If I had a backyard get together and someone brought watermelon, we would place it on the table cut it up and serve it to our guests - no offense taken there. In that case, it's just food. See the difference?
Oh my, you are so uptight. I mean I gave my middle eastern friend a stick of deodorant, some soap, and a slurpee as a gift. It was all in good fun.
Talk to your son so he doesn't grow up to be an oblivious idiot. This reminds me of the Chapelle show and how offensive it was but people couldn't tell the difference between laughing with someone and at someone.
No, obviously the kid brought it as part of his prank. What I was referring to is that the OP seems upset that the parents "let" their child bring such a gift and perhaps they were "in on it".
I highly doubt the kid said to his parents "hey I want to bring this racist gag gift to my friends party can we go pick up a watermelon?" the kid probably just played it off to their parents saying they were just bringing the watermelon to share at the party. OP said it was not a formal birthday party just a backyard gathering and I did not see anywhere saying the watermelon was gift wrapped indicating that the parents knew this was the birthday present. Watermelons are a little hard to hide so I'm sure the parents knew he was bringing it but I think it's a little unfair to assume they were in on the joke.
You may be right. I would love to think that the parents weren't in on the joke. However, as a parent, wouldn't you ask your child why they chose to put a bow and ribbon around the watermelon and the Kool-Aid??
oh gosh, I must be dense! First for me hearing this stereotype since I came here 15 years ago. I have sent in koolaid pouches, watermelon, baked wings with my kids potluck party frequently. How many people did I unknowingly offended the past decade ? Does being Asian discount me as being offensive ?
Children are so marvelously unaware of anything but your friendship!I They don't have a hang-up with others who look different from them at all. Their hearts are open and accepting. Prejudice is "taught" by the examples and conversations that they over-hear from the people who influence them the most.
I'm certain that you have not offended anyone by your gestures of good will when you've sent certain food items as a potluck.
This situation is quite different.
Being Asian has nothing at all to do with it. Please pardon my tacky example:
How would you feel if your child - the only Asian child amongst his peers - was handed a bag of rice and a pair of chopsticks as a birthday present?
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