Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How do I Tell Her?

Last night L was in bed before the news in Ferguson started to unfold so I was able to watch some. As a rule we generally won't have it on if she's around, she's five, she has plenty of time to learn about the horrors of the world later in life. I haven't seen any coverage today other than social media because she woke up before me. I caught one story online early this morning that had me in tears because the thought occurred to me one day I'll have to tell her what a crummy world we live in.

L she's a free spirit and a lover, she loves people. To date she has never mentioned difference in skin color to us. She has friends of all sorts of backgrounds, she doesn't see them as her black friends, her Asian friends, her Hispanic friends, her Indian friends, and so on. She sees them as her friends, people who she can run with and play with. They are the people she can enjoy life with. It is the kind of childhood innocence we could all covet.

So how do I tell her that her friends with darker skin face different challenges than she does and will? How do I tell her there are people in the world that still believe our light skin color is superior? How do I tell her the legal system fails people with oppressive systems of "justice" and systematic poverty?

The truth is I, as a white, heterosexual, woman, do not have to have the same conversations with her as my friends who are black or who have black children do before they leave the house. That is the truth! The hard painful truth, we live in a world where some mothers have to tell their children even if you know you did nothing wrong you need to listen to and do everything the police tell you to do, warnings about keeping hoods off and hands out of pockets. And sometimes its vigilantes and not even law enforcement.

In all honesty I don't want to tell her the truth and won't today, not yet. One day though I am going to have to tell her and it breaks my heart because I know already it is going to break her heart. I see her sense compassion and fairness already and it will rock her world, just like it did mine.

Racism is alive and thriving. What is happening in Ferguson right now is about systematic injustice, not just one case. I do not condone rioting, it doesn't make sense to me. Then again I don't walk into the world every day worried that my beloved child will be the next Michael Brown.

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