Casual non-racism that could sound racist to the casual observer.

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It’s always nice when your son notices a niqab properly for the first time and loudly says, ‘What’s wrong with her throat?’ because he thinks the woman is wrapped in bandages. Or when two other Muslim families are at the playground with us, and because of our new fascination with languages other than English, he then says in his factual tone, ‘Some people speak other languages. It sounds like this: gooBEgooblahdedahmemahheHAW.’

And let’s not forget your daughter. Three times in her life she has said a variation of, ‘I don’t like that girl. Her vest is furry.’ AKA. I don’t like a new person because of whatever difference there is between us. It’s not that she doesn’t really like them or is terrified of differences, but rather she doesn’t feel like socialising so must invent a reason to dislike someone. Once, a girl in a furry vest. Once, a boy with a bloody nose. Once, at the top of her lungs, ‘I don’t like that boy. He’s black.’ Did the ground fucking swallow me whole?!

Generally I love being taken by surprise by their quirky observations of the world and the people in it, but on these rare occasions the surprise is more akin to suddenly having a tonne of ice dropped on your prostrate, naked body.

Incidentally, trying to explain a niqab/hijab to a three year old who has never heard of any sort of god or formal religion is a real treat.

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