When I was way younger, before I ever thought about kids, before I even considered what being a mom would actually mean, I thought that maybe I would adopt some children. I thought maybe I could adopt a black child, a son, and raise him up and maybe he would be bigger than me and I thought that would be something. That would be something to be proud of, a son who would look out for his mother, someone I could stand proudly behind. And I’ve imagined this scenario more than once and it’s stayed with me for years.
And then I wound up having my own two sons, two skinny white boys, and we live in a giant multinational multicultural city. And my kids go to a progressive public school that goes out of its way to maintain diversity. The school has an action coalition of parents and educators to help give voice to the discussion of race amongst us. To help give us parents who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s a way to talk to each other, black and white and Asian and Middle Eastern and Jewish and Latino, all of us not entirely sure what is going on, only that we don’t want to perpetuate this confusion and these prejudices on to our children.
I went to one of those meetings because it sounded like a great idea. I’ll be honest, I can’t say I got much out of it but then my head was on the parking meter and the napping baby I had left at home with grandma and my workout class that was starting in 45 minutes.
So nothing came of it.
My actions didn’t change.
But the world, it keeps changing.
And now, today, my heart hurts. My head hurts. I know how we got here but I don’t know why.
I guess my inner Pollyanna still believes in the best in people, and that there are more good people in the world than there are bad.
But the news today. The gunning down of five on duty police officers from rooftop snipers on the heels the senseless murders of two black men by police officers in two different cities. It’s all bad you guys.
And I have absolutely no idea what I can do. I know I’ll never get it. I swear to everything I hold dear, I understand to my core, that I will never hold the same fears as mothers of black sons hold. Right now my biggest very valid fear in the world is of angry young American dudes with a chip on their shoulder who can get a gun wherever they want and walk in to any public place and start shooting. I am truly afraid of that. And also the dark, but that’s another thing.
But that is nothing compared to what I have come to learn the moms of black children fear every time their teenaged child leaves the house. Whether alone or with friends, getting in the car, out on a date, going to work, going to school, they fear whether their child will come home alive that night.
The insanity of the injustice is overwhelming.
And I’ve read the articles and watched the videos (although Lord no, not the recent videos of the murders, never those) and often feel like a walking hypocrite, because I don’t know what to do. So I share some things on facebook and don’t feel any better.
And I try to remember that it’s not about me.
And in my mind I’m thinking, well they must be so angry and they have a right to be angry but even thinking it’s a “ them” issue makes me a hypocrite. Because who is “they”? All black people in America? All people who don’t have pinkish yellowish white person skin in America? And as long as I think about “them” as opposed to “us” then I’m propagating the hypocrisy within myself.
And then I think, but this argument, or not argument, these serious horrible issue in our country of racism and classism and blatant bigotry, while it may be viewed as an “us and them” issue, because as a middle class white lady living in an urban liberal bubble, I will god willing never know the fear that a black mother lives with as she raises her children to be good and upstanding citizens, it is my issue. It is very much my problem. And the problem of all parents if we are going to see the generation of our children be better than us.
And as I sit here and try to find something in myself to hold on to while the world seems to be going batshit crazy, I think of my imaginary son, the black boy I adopted and what I would say to him. And would my words be different for him than they would be with my own little white boys.
Because be kind to each other, hold hands while you’re crossing the street, play nicely share with each other, look for the good in people…it just doesn’t seem to cut it.
And so I will start talking to my children about race, about what it means to be a white person in American and what it means to be a black person in America. I don’t need to get into race politics, but I do need for them to be aware of the fact that we are different but we are all also very much the same. And maybe we can learn to celebrate the differences as well as the many similarities.
And let me not be silent about it. Let me be the change I want to see in my children.
And to the parents of children who have been killed by gun violence, by police brutality, by hatred or bigotry of any kind, please know that I will not be silent. I will be whatever you need me to be, in whatever ways I can to help to fight this injustice. I may not know what that is yet, and I know you don’t either. But maybe we can work together and find a solution.
And to the parents and families and friends of
And the countless other black boys and men and women whose names I’ve not heard. Your lives are not uncounted. Your deaths are living history.
And with that I want to send out prayers for the families of the officers who were killed in Dallas last night while doing their job. I have always had a friend in the NYPD (cute white lady alert) and I think that cops do one of the hardest jobs there is. And I will always be grateful to them and their families for the job they volunteer for and it’s unfortunate that too many of them are giving the job such a bad name.
And to the four dickhead assholes who shot up that protest last night and strategically killed a bunch of cops. You guys suck ass. Like, my mother is reading this and I don’t need to put that hate into the universe and I really don’t care if you’re four angry black dudes or four right wing military asshats or a conspiracy of the militia to fuck the universe, you are the worst of the worst people who have ever existed in the world.
Ooh, I know. Hey America, why don’t you just take away all the guns, like all of them, including the cops and throw them in a giant hole and I swear, we won’t have any of these shooting problems anymore. Sound good? Okay, thanks! Bye, I love you.