Why are Most of the People Who Work at Airports of Color? And Pilots White?

Boarding the plane for a recent trip, my daughter inched patiently behind me counting each row we passed anxiously waiting to get to row 26. As we approached our seats she tapped me on the lower back and said, “Daddy, can I sit next to you? Sister can sit next to mommy.”

“If that’s what you want to do, sure.”

We got to our seats, sat down and began digging around for our seat belts. Settling in, I started to untangle my headphones and quickly download some music before setting my phone to airplane mode. My daughter looked out the window curiously. After a minute or so she said, “Daddy, why are most of the people who work in the airport people of color, like the people who drive the carts and at the restaurants and the people on the plane like the pilot and other…whatever they’re called…people who help?”

“The flight attendants?”

“Ya, them. Why are most of them and the pilots white?”

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It Smells Worse than Daddy’s Farts: A Talk about Environmental Racism

“Dad! What’s that smell!” Said my oldest daughter as we drove north on the interstate heading home from the museum.

Chiming in, “Ya dad! It smells worse than your farts!” My younger daughter added.

“That’s the smell of the oil refinery. The wind must be blowing the smell in this direction” I responded with a laugh.

Turning to look at my youngest, my oldest said, “Sister, that’s like at Miss Lupita sometimes, when we’re walking to the park.”

“Ya, dad. When we go to the park with Miss Lupita, sometimes it smells like dog food.” Said my youngest, turning her head to me.

My oldest then added, “Ya, dad Miss Lupita lives close to the dog food factory and when the wind blows towards her house it stinks. You can smell it even if the wind isn’t blowing sometimes.”

“Worse than your farts, sister’s farts, and mommy’s farts put together!” said my youngest as the two kids laughed belly laughs in the back seat.

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Is There a Brown History Month?

When my eldest discovered that this month is Black History Month her first question was “Is there a Brown History Month?”

My initial response was a mental, “Ummm.”

I then said, “I don’t know. I’m sure there are months set aside to recognize the histories of other racial populations, but I’m not sure when they are.”

“Is there a Chinese History Month or Mexican History Month, because I am Chinese and Mexican and I think there should be a month for us?” She proclaimed.

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It’s More Than Junk Mail…

Every year around the holidays we receive a gift catalog providing us with an opportunity to buy a farm animal for families living in Africa. I have tacitly accepted it as a harmless piece of junk mail. The catalog typically sits in our pile of junk mail. But, after my older daughter commented on it, I was forced to give it some attention.

“Dad, can we buy an animal for a family in Africa. The animals are for families in Africa who don’t have their rights met. They need our help. Come, look,” she said. Continue reading

Because There Aren’t Enough Black Fairies

IMG_0301 (1)Until today, my posts have been about experiences with my older daughter.  This is the first post specifically about my younger daughter.  For years she has been by our side while I talk with my older daughter, but this is the first time the conversation was just the two of us.  It may have helped that her older sister was gone for the morning.

My younger daughter celebrated her fifth birthday last weekend.  One of her gifts was a small white plaster fairy.  The gift came with paints and a paintbrush with instructions for personalizing the fairy.  The illustration on the box was a fairy with fair skin, very similar to her skin tone.  After setting up the fairy and paint on top of a paper bag with a cup of water I walked to the sink to wash dishes.

After five minutes I returned to her side to observe the progress of her masterpiece.  I immediately noticed that the porcelain white arms of the fairy’s arms, legs and face had been painted black, the dress was blue and the mushrooms surrounding the fairy were a variety of colors with spots.  Continue reading

Were European Colonialists and Native American People Friends?

pocahontas_668_330_80_int_s_c1This morning my daughter asked, seemingly out of nowhere and initially rhetorically, “Why weren’t the Native American people and Europeans friends?”

“Why do you think they weren’t friends,” I asked.

“Well, I think they were friends, but not all of them.”

I drove in silence, unsure of what to say. I thought about my knowledge of the trail of tears, Indian boarding schools, the Indian Appropriation Act and a few personal stories shared with me when I worked with families living on the Pasqua Yaqui Reservation in Tucson, Arizona. Everything was part of the tragedies and acts of violence inflicted upon indigenous populations by White people on “Turtle Island,” which is what many native people call North America. I was also aware of a few historical accounts of relatively positive relationships between native people and colonialists…however those often relied on native people becoming Christian and “civilized.”

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Why Do They Want to Build a Wall? Listen, and Speak Up!

First in a three part blog series on social justice by Dr. Andrew Goff…because #OurKidsAreListening.

Last January, my six-year-old daughter Addi and I were driving home from the grocery store when I encountered a new phase of my life as a father. I was busy thinking about dinner with public radio quietly playing in the background. Suddenly, she asked, “Why would they want to build a wall? Will we still be able to see Vito (great grandfather in Juarez, Mexico)?”

Pause five seconds…boarder? Wait, what?…I didn’t turn off the radio when the news came on!…deep breath in… “That’s a very good question sweetie, let’s talk about that as soon as we get home.”

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Why Do the Football Players Take a Knee?

Taking a kneeOn our way to school this morning my six-year-old asked me about taking a knee during the national anthem. Like all of our other conversation about SJ and E, it was amazing! This is the first I have chosen to share, because they are always very personal and I do not want anyone to think that I believe I have the right answers. However, this particular conversation was is one I feel people need to think about long and hard. Continue reading