I started this post wanting to talk about the fact that I started a new job today. But I can’t focus on my joy. The story of Trayvon Martin is stuck in my head. Not because I am taking sides. Not because I know all of the facts. But because I am a single, white mother raising a biracial daughter – and up until the years my daughter came to be, I had been a white girl raised in an all white town living life privileged to not have to recognize the bitterness that lived all around me.
Today, I cried when I read Dear Trayvon’s Mom written by another blogger. The following words that she wrote could apply to so many of those same people I grew up around:
I nonchalantly enjoyed my white privileges my entire adult life, one of those people who said “racism is dying” and “things are different now” and “we’re colorblind” and casual ignorance like that. I gushed and over-loved any black people in my life, of which there were very few; none in a real relationship with me that wasn’t exaggerated and a little contrived and over-zealous.
It could have applied to me many years ago. Yet, today, I had to sit and formulate the conversation I need to have with my daughter regarding living as a black woman in this society. I had to formulate the conversation I have to continue to have with my white children to protect her and to be examples to others. It’s easy to dismiss racism when you are white. It is easy to waltz through life not understanding the anger coming from other races and cultures. It is easy to keep pushing your children the way our parents did and to focus on good grades and what type of sports our kids will play – will they be in the popular crowd? What clothes can I buy to make sure they aren’t outcasts? Remembering to send money with them to buy books when the rest of the class will be doing so. Trying to fit in how to be the room mother or participate in PTA. It’s easy to follow the crowd and just focus on trying to fit in – for your kids and for yourselves.
But is it easy for races that aren’t white? Or religions that don’t match yours? Or beliefs that are a little different? While I spend time over this coming week having more discussions with my children on how to live safely and how to protect their sister the best they can. I urge every single person to take a short moment of time this week to step back and ask what things are there that you don’t have to worry about because you were born into a culture or born with a certain skin color. What things do you take for granted – like house hunting without concern if having your child with you will cause you to be turned away in the neighborhood? And if you have ever muttered words like “racism isn’t as bad as they make it” or “why do they keep making excuses to become nothing” or “I think they are blowing it out of proportion” or “why does everyone have to make it about race”, I beg you to read and question those statements – step outside of what you know and look into a world you may not really understand. And once you do, share with your children. Talk to them. Educate them. Expose them. Make them better people.
Dear Trayvon’s Mom: I am so sorry for your loss.
Talking about race with our white kids after Trayvon’s murder