I am going to attempt to write about something that has been on my mind… Something that I have thought about a lot and find that it is uncomfortable for me to write about.
So as you read this, please excuse my lack of grace and my blindness to my blindness. I can only see the world out of my own lens. My lens that has been developing my whole life, based on the experiences and relationships that have show up along the way.
I am a middle class white woman.
I am raising two white kids.
When I pay attention to what is happening in the world, my heart breaks for all the mothers who are dealing with loss and tragedy. My heart breaks for the conversations that African American parents are having with their young boys about how to stay safe in the world. A world that sees them as potentially threatening, deceitful, or untrustworthy, simply because of the color of their skin.
Yes, I have conversations with my children about how to stay safe in the world. We talk about how others may perceive or judge us. We talk about how to be helpful and friendly. We talk about how easy it is to be misunderstood, AND to misunderstand. We talk about not judging other’s, because we have no idea what kind of life they have, or how they have been treated.
And while I worry about my kids out in the world, there is a much higher level of worry that African American parents have – and that hurts me. I am grateful that my children won’t be targeted because of their skin color – the same way I am grateful that academics comes relatively easy to them – and then I feel…. What? Guilt? Shame? Uncomfortable with the fact that I am grateful for these privileges?
This is messy. This is real. And we are all a part of it. So what CAN I do? How CAN I make a difference in the lives of others?
I love this article written by Maralee from A Musing Maralee blog. She calls out to the parents of her black son’s white friends to take part in the work of helping her child feel safe and respected in the world we live in together.
It takes a village. It takes a community.
And it takes a hard, honest look at ourselves.
I am inspired and challenged when I read An open Letter to my Fellow White Liberal Parents by Rachel Quinn Egan on the Huffington Post. She challenges me to recognize the way that my family’s world is white washed – from the movies we watch, to the toys we buy, to the peer groups we have. How can I help my kids to see beyond “other” when they are being brought up in an environment that, by default, promotes the “other” mentality?
This is where the tension lies for me… In the recognizing the subtle things that promote a mindset that I don’t support, yet find are deeply engrained in our home.
So again, as a middle class white woman raising two white kids, I recognize how important it is to talk about race and diversity, and adversity. I believe in the ongoing conversations that happen, spontaneously or planned, about the injustices in the world. But bigger than that, is the work of broadening my children’s lens through experiences and relationships with all types of people.
It’s not about “everyone is equal” or being “colorblind” – it is about deepening our understanding of cultures beyond our own, of listening to their stories, their celebrations and their struggles. It is about connection and curiosity and openness.
This is a bit of a ramble, but it has been on my mind.
And with two more publicized deaths in the last few days, two more families who have lost fathers, sons, brothers, I had to share my thoughts.
I don’t really have any great tips or powerful talking points to share. Instead, I am trusting that by speaking up and being candid about my own messy discomfort, I am somehow broadening awareness of others. Or, if nothing else, sparking some conversations. Because it will take all of us - white, black, brown – to change what is happening in our world.
Much love to each of you.