Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

You Know How We Do It?

911 Emergency. Reconnect The Community.

I’ve made a lot of interesting discoveries since I became a parent. I’ve learned that the Disney Channel has a lot of cool shows. I know who Selena Gomez AND Demi Lovato are and could identify them on sight…in public. I also learned that Phineas and Ferb f*ckin’ rocks and there are some very very good children’s albums.

I’ve also learned extreme patience and the importance of clearly explaining myself for the most effective results.

Which brings me to yesterday and the most interesting lesson I learned: birthday parties do seem to differ by race.

Okay, that might not be completely accurate, as my sample size seems rather small, however, I’ve never let facts get in the way of a perfectly good sociological discovery and analysis, so why start now.

My daughter is a toddler. She’s *this* many years old. So at this point, I’ve been to my fair share of birthday parties. But until yesterday, I hadn’t thought about the fact that, for the most part, nearly all of the party goers were of the ninja persuasion. You see, for the first time, I took my daughter to a birthday party where I was the only ninja participant. My daughter goes to a very diverse daycare/pre-school and has taken a particular liking to a certain Caucasian classmate who is the same age. They *heart* each other. It’s actually cute.

Being the professional observationist that I am, I noticed so many interesting tidbits. For instance, I had to be the youngest parent there. Which struck me as odd since I’m fairly sure that I looked like a teenage parent compared to the other parents. And it wasn’t just my spirit. I think I really just looked that young compared to the rest. That was very different since, well, whenever I go to a bday party of color for my daughter, everybody is pretty much the same age or a little younger than I am. I don’t feel young is the main bullet point.

The next thing that jumped out to me is that all of the parents kept talking about work and travel plans. Literally, I heard more conversations that involved taking a dog overseas than I’ve ever heard in my life. It was all, “my proposal” this or ” this week in July” that. It was interesting because at all of the colored parties I’ve been to, I can’t remember anybody having an in-depth conversation about those things. Not that they don’t happen, I’ve just never heard that.

Most of the birthday parties I’ve been to are full of life conversations as well, but I suppose since most of us know each other very well, they don’t come across as “professional” so to speak. It’s like a regular party with your homeboys or homegirls. But I did know for a fact that these folks all lived very near each other. Hmmm….perhaps its the age thing. Maybe me and my friends are just ignant and the rest of the world is having meaningful and substantive conversations at toddler birthday parties. Maybe…just maybe…Hennessy ISN’T part of the toddler birthday party experience.

That last line is a joke.

No really. I don’t even drink when I have my daughter nor will I ever around her. She moves too quickly for me to have any type of impaired athletic abilities.

Even though they either didn’t realize it or wouldn’t think anything of it, I felt like I got a cultural experience just from going to an upwardly mobile white toddler birthday party. (The white parents at the school where my daughter goes are largely well-to-do hippy, earthy-crunchy, tree huggers with money that affords the ability to be novelists and random artisans). And I immediately thought about how interesting it would be to invite a few of those parents to my daughter’s bday party with a bunch of ninjas with kids the same age as theirs but likely 10 years younger that featured music that included the clean version of “Cashin’ Out” and the catalog of the seminal talent, 2 Chainz. (I actually really mean that, like, how can anybody NOT like 2 Chainz? He entertains me. SIMILAC! Oh, and that Ca$h Out ninja is one ugly motherlover. Like Cash Money Records 1998 ugly.)

Granted, this was just one party. And it was at a park. So alcohol was prohibited. But this seemed very natural. And it was cool. I enjoyed the learning that took place even thought it wasn’t intentional. So I assume that there must be other areas where folks have had similar experiences, right? Doing one thing with your peoples and the same thing with other folks peoples and immediate differences (good and bad) surface?

It’s Monday, let’s be cultural…what experiences have you folks have that mirror mine? Learn me something. Learn us something


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Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    I remember once this white man-a business partner of my dad’s came to our house and I was so damn confused. I thought Jesus had come back to take us home to heaven. I run to my mom, and told her that Jesus was in our living room! Yeah, I was like 5 and WILD!

    As the night progresses, imma teach you cultural thangs Jammy Jams! Right now, nothing pops into my head, other than when you go to an African person’t house, go hungry! For you shall be fed!

  • thisishrighthereninja

    Monday? Naw it ain’t.

  • mena

    We’re the parents on their second marriages? Usually professionals, regardless of race, seem to have kids at later ages which is usually in their early 30s or very late 20s. Seeing as how you are in your early 30s, this makes me think that these people just had their kids later in life or/and may be on their second marriage. Also, white people age faster so they could have been your age but just looked older.

    I’ve been to a white toddler birthday party and alcohol was served, in full force.

    I guess playing spades is one area where things seem to be different from my white and black friends. First, there’s always appetizers served instead of chips and pretzels. With my white friends, the game isn’t serious. I mean, we may $hit talk but it’s fun and games. When I play with my black friends it’s like a life or death battle. And don’t lose the game by reneging a book b/c you weren’t paying attention. You will get cursed up and down, called out loudly, and it’s almost like you f!cked up the family name on purpose. From that day forward, you are the person that no one wants as their partner. The rules are also different. They only play with the aces but blacks tend to play with the jokers being high.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    I think a lot of cultural differences can be attributed as much to class or region as ethnicity. I’ve been to events, not kids birthday parties, that were just as you described, talking about work, travel, etc., that were majority or all Black events.

    As for kids; I think that a lot of people are just having kids when they are older now. I work with three guys all in their late forties who within the last two years have had their first kids. And two of the three are Black.

    There are just so many variables that it’s hard to attribute anything to ethnicity anymore unless it’s something really specific like having a Quinceanera party. Otherwise there is so much culture blending in this country due to media exposure, people moving around, intercultural marriage, etc. that most things cultural are more about money, class and region than anything else.

  • MJoy

    Welcome to my life!!!

    I live in Whitey whiteville, USA and have two young sons so every bday party is like this. I think if I went to a black kids party THAT would be a cultural learning experience for me.

    But in general, when I around black parents we seem to talk about life experiences more (unlike ur story). With white parents we only talk about our kids (this is usually the mothers)… The dads usually try to be cool and “relate to me” talking bout.. Man that last transformers was really racist, huh?

    Moral of the story? Both my children and I need more black friends.

  • http://voodoochile88.tumblr.com/ Craig and Dem

    “what experiences have you folks have that mirror mine?”

    In 3rd grade I went from a Christian school that was populated primarily by ninjas like me. My teacher died and a large portion of the school got burnt down thanks to two drunks and lighting a cigarette. So my parents decided that moving to the public school in our new neighborhood seeing as we moved from the Eastside to the Northside. I show up the first day at recess and I spent the entire time searching for someone who looked like me. I found no one.

    Up until December of my 4th grade year I was the only black kid in my elementary school. The culture shock of learning about what rock music was, why I can’t wear my hat backwards, and why learning about African countries everyone stared at me for answers let me know that I wasn’t on the Eastside anymore.

  • spottieottiedarlin

    Road Trips. I recently took a road trip back to NC in a car with 4 white women. This was my first non-professional trip with people that don’t look like me.

    Major differences:

    1) W/ the 2520’s we played the “humming game”…for hours.
    2) We didn’t stop for breafkast. They packed bagels and fruit.
    3) We planned to leave at 6 am….we didn’t leave hours later. We left at 6:04.

  • KMN

    One thing that I can say that probably happens at our BDay parties is the grown folks music…it kills me that at a 5 year old party with 3-6 year olds has on constant rotation get me bodied by beyonce. That truly bothered me. But at said same party I sat down with another lady and we talked about schools, our kids education, the teachers, and how we should raise our kids. My daughter goes to a mostly black school but is one of the better public schools in the city so you have sprinklings of others there as well. I didn’t see any white or Asian kids there though (her school has a lot of Asian children esp Hmong). But I know that MiniMe is going to want to invite a white boy to her bday party. It will be interesting since I plan on renting a horse, having margaritas in a pouch while playing grown folks music. And yes there WILL be a spades game going on somewhere in that park that day :)


  • nillalatte

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a toddler birthday party (thank God)… lol, but I can remember several of my kids birthday parties, and well, I guess I’m the outlier again because all their parties have involved children of different races/colors/religions, etc. Every mixture you can imagine. Some spoke English, some didn’t. But, no, I’ve never noticed the ‘professional’ aspect although people did talk about countries they’ve visited or where they were from or maybe where they were going next.

    We were even in the middle east once and celebrated a birthday (early) of one of my nieces. Mind you, only the women and the children were in attendance. That was a bit different, but kind of reminded me of Thanksgiving where the ladies naturally congregated in the kitchen for the cooking and the men in the living room watching football. Weird, huh? Culture. Always fascinating.

    The last party my son attended was for a Filipino classmate. It was pretty cool actually. All these kids, black, white, asian, hispanic, indian, all playing in the pool acting foolish. All the parents getting to know each other while hanging out pool side (no alcohol). For me it’s the coolest experience to see so many different kids from different backgrounds just hanging out and enjoying life, and it was an awesome experience to talk to some of the parents too.

    Diversity. Get some. :)

  • http://panamaenrique.wordpress.com Malik

    Catholic Church vs. pretty much any Black dominated church. Black churches seem to conspire to find any and every reason to make it 30 minutes longer right after the last part. And that last part never ends. I got out in a 60-90 minutes of Catholic church. I don’t need no damn 3 hour concert every Sunday. But it’s not really an issue anymore since I don’t go to church anymore.

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