I’ve often heard people tell the stories of how their children have become “colour-blind”, meaning that they don’t see race, and thus they aren’t “racist”. It’s a hopeful statement, talking about a future that can be different. It’s also a confession of sorts, saying that our children are able to achieve what we (“we” being whichever generation is saying this) couldn’t. It also calls out for redemption. No matter our past, we were able to give birth to children that are no longer indebted to that past.

But the important question would be: is it true? Are we creating a generation of colour-blind children? Is it even possible to be colour-blind in 2010? Or is colour-blind a myth created by the white liberals, used to be politically correct? A trend towards ignoring race in a attempt at sidestepping forms of racism had been identified in white studies all over the world. Would this comment on our children be part of that?

Obviously there is something very problematic embedded within this statement, since stating it already recognize our own racial struggles, and the fact that we couldn’t or wouldn’t reconcile with people from other races. And it’s deeply problematic is a white person and a black person, both 50 years old, with 30 years ahead of them together in this country, leave reconciliation to a next generation.

What bothers me is the fact that I doubt whether the next generation will be “colour-blind”. Maybe in the white liberal sense of the word, meaning refuse to talk about issues of race (which creates huge problems when it comes to reconciliation), but I doubt whether “colour-blind” will be achieved in the next generation – “colour-blind” in the sense that they don’t think whites should in some why continue to have specific privileges, or in the way where the humanity of all people of all races are equally recognized, and thus the death of all people from all races equally mourned.

Maybe what bothers me most is the fact that I’m wondering whether the colour-blind children myth might not be an easy strategy to postpone the painful discussions and actions that is so long overdue. If we can convince everyone that our children will be colour-blind, then it does in a way excuse us from the difficult work of reconciliation necessary today. This idea can be an easy strategy to claim that reconciliation has been secured for the future of South Africa, and that we can take if of the agenda.

The reality is however that our children will inherit our ideas. They will imitate the reconciliation that we embody. They will carry over the racialization that we received. Except if we work to intentionally change this. If parents, schools, society, media, and other role-players work together to slowly but surely become a mirror and a model. A mirror for our children to find out how they’ve been racialized, and a model for what might become in the future.

The myth of the colour-blind children is a hopeful myth. But even with hard work it will take more than one generation. By simply retelling the myth, without every saying: we will be reconciled with our neighbour. Us. This generation. Me. Myself. I will reconcile with someone, build a friendship with someone that is a racial other, and model the reconciliation which I hope for my children, this myth might become just another one in the line of hopeful stories which let us down.

(colour-blind is a misleading idea at this stage, and not something I propose that we make our aim).

Tuesdays is half-price day at Sterkinekor, which mean Tuesday is movie day. Last night we went to see Grace is Gone, I found a whole number of people in the theatre who I know, guess great minds think alike, cause this was the first half price day it was showing.

The movie consists of mainly dialogue, showing the road trip that a dad take his two daugthers on as he tries to get away from the reality that his wife has been killed in the war in Iraq, and tries to hide this from his daughters, because he doesn’t know how to talk about this to them.

This guy really isn’t a good father. He doesn’t let his kids have any own opinions, have rules so strict it really gets the kids down, and then make the absolutely horrible mistake of deciding not to tell the kids about the death of their own mother. The movie then portrays how this guy start doing all the right things in the midst of doing this absolute horrible thing.

While taking the girls on the trip he relax his rules a bit, although the reason is that he tries to hide what is going on from them. He actually start talking to his two daugthers, listening to them. Possibly the most beautiful part is where he buy two packets of sigarettes after cathcing the oldest smoking, and then start smoking a sigarette with her. Although he seems to be a trained smoker, he then start coughing even more than the kid, and in the end she is so worried about him, she actually forget about smoking. Or maybe the most beautiful part was where he got into the little toy house in the store with the smaller one and just started talking to her.

Does the name of the movie only talk about the wife, “Grace”, or does the movie also show relationships where “grace is gone”? I think the latter even more than the former. But then the movie also show relationships where grace has been found, it show that grace can be found in the midst of the most horrible places.

Is this possible? Can we actually do the right things for all the wrong reasons? I guess so. Maybe this is the grace given to parents, that sometimes in the midst of making the worst mistakes you can think of, although maybe with the best intentions, you do the most right things. Sometimes we just need to sit down with kids, just listen to them, and that might be more important than all the fancy tricks about how to raise kids, what to do, what not to do, and doing everything right.