“Why don’t you take the kids out to the car, and I’ll be out in just a minute,” I said to Austin. I looked at the clock. It’s later than I intended to be getting into the car, but we’re not late late yet. No big deal.
I fumble around the kitchen for my phone, put on my coat, and hop into the passenger seat. I turn back to confirm that the kids are buckled up, and notice tears on Jordan’s cheeks.
“What’s wrong, buddy?” I ask.
“It was Andrew!” he shouts.
Andrew is sitting behind me, so I twist around further in order to face him. “What’s going on?”
Andrew is quiet for a moment, and looks embarrassed. When he speaks, it’s in his very quiet I-know-I-did-something-wrong voice.
“I said some things to Jordan that were racist.”
I do a doubletake, and sputter, “What? You did what?”
I turn to Austin and say, more quietly, “You heard that, right? That wasn’t my imagination?”
“He must have meant something else,” says Austin, “but I heard it, too.”
“Andrew, what did you mean?” I ask.
“I said some things to Jordan that were racist, but they really weren’t racist,” he answers.
Austin and I exchange a look. Yeah, that’s really what he just said. They had talked about Martin Luther King Jr. at school, and Andrew had asked me some questions a few days earlier. But what could he have possibly said? And really, what racist comment could he have made that would upset Jordan?
“Like what?” I ask.
“Well, like, I told him that it was a race to see who could buckle up first, but it really wasn’t.”
“Well, it’s not nice to tease Jordan. You know he needs help to buckle up.”
Andrew said some things to Jordan that were races, but they really weren’t races.