Yesterday, my tichel clad wife took our son to the park. Even though it was about 5 or 6 pm-ish, there was a fair amount of kids still running around. My son began to play with a little boy, who was not Jewish, black and about a year older than he is. My wife usually begins to chat up the mom of a kid my son suddenly becomes friendly with, so they began to schmooze. She was very friendly and the kids were having a lot of fun playing together. The park was full of mostly Jewish kids and after my wife and the other mom parted ways, something happened.
She (my wife) began to get the dirtiest looks from every single Jewish mom in the park. After a few minuted of this, the general unspoken consensus within the playground was "How could you possibly let your child play with one of them." She didn't really pay any mind to it, but did tell me about it when she got back.
What on earth is wrong with two toddlers playing together? If you want to play the whole "bad influence" card, don't even go there. These kids are way to young to be influencing each other in any way shape or form. And even if bad influence was a factor, these naysayers had no idea what the kids were doing. Why does being black constitute the automatic assumption of being a bad influence? This display of disapproval was pure racism and nothing more. I could talk for hours about how I think racism is evil, but I'm only going to talk about it within the context of Jewish parenting. Raising children to be racist is pure sin. There is no merit in the world to come for people who raise their children to have sinat chinam (baseless hatred), and just to clarify, racism is sinat chinam in its purest form.
Unfortunately, it is acceptable in the frum community to be racist. My brother went to a very prominent yeshiva in the Flatbush community. Some might even call it, the yeshiva. He related to me about how racist his rebbe was and how he ranted and raved about how dirty and degenerate the shvartzes are. This man is supposed to be an educator and he is acting no better than the instructors of the Hitler Youth. Is his Torah really worth anything? Sickening.
The beauty of childhood is that there are no biases, preconceived notions or prejudices. These two children were sharing a moment of fun together and that is a beautiful thing. To frum people who think its kosher to be racist, I say this: If you want to raise your children to be good Jews, they first need to be good people. Start by teaching them about the beauty of humanity. Kavod Habriot. Separating people (especially children) based on their differences teaches hatred. I'm not saying send your kids out to play with anyone. G-d knows there are plenty of bad kids out there, Jewish or not. Use your best judgment, but don't make that decision based on skin color. Raising children exposed to diversity will make them better people, and it certainly wouldn't hurt their parents either.
Update: Thanks to Heshy for the guest post on Frumsatire.