What Some Kids Just Cannot Do

http://www.upworthy.com/the-things-a-black-kid-is-often-taught-not-to-do-that-his-white-friends-can-do-are-heartbreaking?c=ufb1

This TED talk made me think…

As some of you might know, I have an insulin-dependant diabetic daughter (IDDD?). She recently had a biopsy to see if she is celiac. It came out negative, luckily for us. I say luckily, because it would have been another pain in the ass to have to deal with, making her diet even more restricted than it is now.

She will probably develop it in the future; but for now, we just have to worry about her diet in terms of sugar intake.

These are what I call first world problems.

They are actual problems, (unlike some of the nonsense you hear people wasting their brain power on) but they can be dealt with.

She had the biopsy for free. I even got free meals while I stayed overnight with her (as a 4-year-old diabetic going under while fasting, they needed to control her sugar with a glucose drip, so she couldn’t do it as a day patient: she loved nearly all of the experience, though.). Her testing strips etc. are free, her insulin his highly subsidised, and I can afford gluten free food.

It’s more of a nuisance than a problem. She’ll never get really sick from either condition.

But that is sometimes hard to handle, considering there are so many sweet foods around.

I’m diabetic too (also type one) and so I don’t have a puritanical view of what she can and cannot eat. Yet sometimes, she just can’t have what the other kids are having for lunch. Even when it’s the last day of school and there’s chocolate custard for dessert. And it’s not easy, emotionally, to have to say no. And watch her cry (kids crocodile tears, mostly, but a little bit of self-pity she’s allowed).

But she gets over it. Next time, maybe she can have a slice of cake. Or if not, she can have a sugar-free sweet to make up, or a square of diabetic chocolate after her natural yogurt.

But imagine having to say to your kid what this guy is talking about on the link above.
Imagine having no reason to say such a thing, except that your child is a different colour. He’s not sick. No doctor said it’s bad for his health.

Except it could be.

It’s hard to get my mind around it, though I have taught kids who went through this kind of thing.

As writers, we’re being encouraged, and encouraging one another, to create characters of colour in our stories and novels. It’s a commendable exercise. I myself have a character in a new novella taking form in my brain, who is a divorced woman of colour with two kids.

We should make sure to, and I intend to, run such work by someone who really does understand the life our characters would lead. Otherwise we risk making the characters, trivial and inaccurate; mere caricatures of the people we intend them to portray. I’ve a feeling we will be told a few things that will make us think as much as this video made me think. And then go change a few things about our work.

They say write what you know, and, despite our best intentions to broaden our work to include characters that are other than white, we should remember that maxim. I don’t mean we should forget about writing minorities into our novels. On the contrary, I mean we should get to know them, so we can write well about them. We should learn their lives, so we can accurately portray them. In the process, we can hopefully eliminate such gaps between what our children have to learn about life regarding their particular conditions.

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About davidjmobrien

Writer, ecologist and teacher

Posted on June 1, 2015, in Equality, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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