Author – joyeglenn

My conflict in a foreign country

My oldest son, Amari

1.) “La piel de Amari es tan oscura como el nocturno.”/ cielo de la noche.”

Translation: “Amari’s skin is as dark as the night sky.”

2.) “Piel mojón”

Translation: “shit skin”

estos son dos comentarios que ha sobre Amari. que mi familia y yo no toleraremos. entiendo que los niños pueden ser malos y discuten. entonces eso no es mi problema. pero los comentarios desagradables sobre la raza, religión o sexo de una persona deben ser una experiencia de aprendizaje para que todos los estudiantes EVITEN.

Translation:

These are two comments spoken about Amari that my family and I will not tolerate. I understand that children can be mean and argue. So that’s not my concern. However, unpleasant comments about a person’s race, religion, or sex should be a learning experience for all students to AVOID.

This is the message that I sent to ONLY 3 people. 1.) The teacher of Amari 2.) the mother of the boy, Iván Luis that “allegedly” said it and 3.) The mother of the girl, Sara who laughed at both of the comments.

Immediately the mother of Sara called me back. She assured me that she would speak with her daughter to find out more. The mother of the boy, Emilia messaged me back as well. She apologized and told me that she would talk to her son and accepted my offer for us to talk after school. However; by the time I reached Emilia, I could see the damage had already been done. It is my STRONG intuition; that Emilia sent my personal message that I sent her to some of the other mothers. Now, our affair was made public. Before my message even reached the teacher; some of the other mothers began to swarm Emilia and asked “what happened?”

“We’ll talk later” was Emilia’s response to all of the mothers. How did they know about the situation? I understand confiding in a person that you trust. Because I did the same. I told my friend Conso A. about the incident. Conso A. never asked for details or tried to gossip about the children or their parents. She simply gave me good advice: “You should email our children’s teacher, so that he can address this with all of the students.” Conso A. was right and I appreciated her wisdom and maturity. But watching 4-5 mothers approach Emilia about the incident added to my agitation as we confronted each other. Though I struggled with my Spanish, I tried my best to get my point across. I wanted her to know that I didn’t care about how the kids may not get along or that they argue sometimes. These things are completely normal. I just wanted her to speak to her son about the comments made about Amari’s skin. She understood. I told her that I believed my son. And then I accused her of believing her son. But she tried to explain to me in Spanish that she did not know what to believe but simply wanted to make sure that her son did not speak those words. But my emotions overwhelmed me and my anger clouded my ability to translate her words in my mind. Then her son, Ivan Luis approached us and I asked him to look into my eyes and tell me if he said those things about my son. He PROMISED me that he didn’t. “Ok let’s ask Amari” I insisted, still upset. So we went in search of Amari even though it was father away from Emilia’s house. But she understood the severity of the situation and wanted to get the truth like I did. With others around staring and listening it was difficult for me to control my emotions. But we found Amari and we questioned him. Emilia was very calm as she questioned him. Amari was firm in the comments that he heard. BUT he said to me: (And though I was angry; I heard his honesty)

“Mommy after replaying the incidents in my head; I realize that is was Sara who made the comments. Not Iván Luis.”

So there I was, shocked but still angry. Both Amari and I accused Iván Luis of saying these things and he did not. It was his friend. Emilia looked at me with malice and said “Now he changes it.” She was right but I felt her spirit essentially calling my son a liar. There I stood in my humility and embarrassment. I apologized to both the mother and her son for the confusion. She explained how she only wanted to clear her son’s name. She said her piece and went home with her two children. I appreciated how Emilia remained calm and handled the situation with ME. However; I did NOT appreciate how she revealed my personal message to others. To me; it seems messy and ugly. Some people enjoy drama and gossip but I HATE it. Yet the fact remained that someone from his class said those things.

You see, for the past 3 years of my family and I living in this small town; there have been numerous incidents in which my family and I have been verbally insulted because of our skin color. So these last two comments that Amari shared with me made me feel not only angry and fed up but disappointed. That someone from his own class, that has seen him almost EVERYDAY for the past 3 years could say such things really made me sad. I had hoped that my son’s presence would create a sense of “diversity awareness” for his classmates. That the classmates of all of my 3 children would learn to accept them and grow up having personal experiences of diversity. That even when they see color; they will also see a friend and human being. If not all of them; but at least some. I don’t want my children to face the discrimination as I did as a child and adult. It’s the year 2021! It really didn’t matter who said it. It just needed to be addressed: that intolerance for race, religion or sex are inexcusable.

Looking back, I wish I had ONLY messaged the teacher as that would have been enough. I made an error in judgment. However, like any other mother, I become a “lioness” when protecting my children. I strive to build a safe and happy home for my family here in Spain and that will not stop. I realize that children are not perfect and sometimes they say and do things that are not a reflection of their parents. However; sometimes they do say things and do things that actually are a reflection of their parents. It is not up to me to decide which is. It is only my job as a mother to make sure that the issue was addressed and that my child is protected. I understood Emilia’s position: She only wanted to find out the truth: if her son said those things. And if he did say them; she would be sure to correct him. I will be queen enough to admit that my emotions overtook me that day. I was loud and believed my son’s accusation that these comments were made by her son. And for that, Amari and I both were wrong. It was only right that Amari and I look Emilia and her son Ivan Luis into their eyes and sincerely apologize to them. That we did. Emilia made it known that she was upset. And I get it. I dragged her to my street believing that Ivan Luis made these remarks about Amari. However, it was not little Ivan Luis who made these remarks but his friend Sara. Still, I had to fight back tears, because I was still slightly disappointed in Ivan Luis because I knew he was a good boy. Yet the fact still remained that Ivan Luis was with his friend both times when the remarks were made. I wanted to express to Emilia to encourage her son not to be in company with friends who speak so ugly and hateful. But I was too upset, embarrassed and angry to. And my Spanish simple is not good enough yet. Perhaps that’s not even my place to mention. Still I took personal offense of Amari’s two classmates and partially their parents.

Two things that bothered me that Emilia said to me were: 1.) that my son changes his story. As if my family and I get enjoyment out of making up lies about racism. Sounds silly right? 2.) That skin color does not matter. I understand her intention behind this comment. But it’s simply not true. I suppose it’s easy to think that way if you don’t have brown skin. The truth is that skin color SHOULD NOT matter but in this society and world it does. Our life experiences are evident of that.

“Lioness” Moma

1 thought on “My conflict in a foreign country”

  1. Joy , you are brave and courageous. You and your family are an example to all of us. You are an extraordinary momma. You are absorbing a new language and a new culture. It’s a shame that not everybody it’s doing the same. We cannot change their narrow minded minds all of a sudden, but I am sure you have contributed to it. Thank you for sharing your story.

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