I was at the park the other day, happily reading a book about Columbine, the kids somewhere out of sight, when I heard a child say, "That black kid just smacked me in the face."
I looked toward the voice and saw a blond girl, probably about seven, standing on the next bench over, reporting her news over the fence to an adult and a couple other kids.
This was discouraging for a number of reasons. The first one being, she could only be talking about Mihiretu. He was the sole black kid for miles around. At some point soon I'm going to have to address the ridiculous lack of diversity in my beloved corner of the earth.
Secondly, she identified him as "that black kid". Not "that African-American kid". Not "that kid". I use "black" myself on occasion but usually semi-ironically, as in "What's that little black boy doing in our living-room?" Immediately, and assuredly incorrectly, I imagined her parents sprawled on their aging plaid couch, scratching their crotches as they reached for another Bud Light, complaining about "the blacks".
Then there was the general parenting problem of the fact that my kid just probably smacked someone in the face. Mihiretu, at this point, uses his hands to solve arguments no more or less than the next four-year-old but he was undoubtably rightly accused.
I regretfully returned my book to my bag and set off in search of my small band of houligans. As I sidled by the girl, who was still milking the drama of her assault, I shot her a bit of a stink eye. She didn't see me, she certainly didn't deserve my scorn, but I had to throw up a bit of psychic protection around that black kid. My black kid.