Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Village

If you are white...

Not the type of words I would normally start writing with.

But nevertheless, if you are white and if you believe that it takes a village to raise a child...

If you are white and you believe it takes a village and you are part of my village, would you take the time to read these two posts?

Two White Girls Get Black Dolls For Christmas via Rage Against the Minivan
To the White Parents of my Black Son's Friends via Amusing Maralee

Then hear my words.  I try not to borrow trouble.  I try not to buy into hype or what cultural
issue seems to be trending right now.  I do not want my kids to be paranoid, to doubt the motives of others, or to make assumptions.  But I do have worries about my kids, worries that other people in my village might not have.

I worry about things like my kids learning what the n word means and then having peers who think it is acceptable to listen to music that glorifies the word.  For the record, my kids are well aware of our country's racial history.  I am not worried about that part.  I am worried about my kids feeling like they have to go along to get along because that's just what their friends are listening to.  I worry about the way in which high schoolers use that word within their vernacular, where again my kids will probably feel this pressure to go along to get along, to not say anything or rock the boat.

I worry about interracial dating and who my kids will marry.  I worry that while my friends may have no issues with my son or daughter as their child's prom date, that their parents or grandparents will not be so inclined.   I, of course, want my kids to marry someone who loves them deeply, who loves Jesus most of all, and I could care less about what color that person turns out to be.  But nonetheless I worry.  I worry that my kids might be "too black" or "too white" for their future relatives.  I worry that my kids' experiences as black people will be so different than their spouses that it might be an issue of division.

I worry about my son, especially, leaving the safety of our bubble.  If you know Kenson at all, you know he is a sensitive, respectful, rule following kid.  But I can't exactly tattoo that information onto his forehead.  I do not daily fear for his safety but I do wonder and worry that he will find himself judged first on his size and then on his blackness.  How will he fair in a more metropolitan area, away from me?

I worry because the reality is racism is not dead.  (Just read any news story on-line that has a racial component to it.  The comment sections are full of hateful, awful comments.  It's easy to say they are written by people whose opinions do not matter.  But the reality is even if I can dismiss those opinions as uneducated, fueled by the anonymity of the Internet, and unworthy of my reply, those opinions still exist.)  I worry because people, all people, have to make snap decisions and judgments and it's very hard to do so without injecting race, gender, and appearance, things that may work against my kids.  I worry that someone's snap judgment may be harmful to my kids, that someone may not intend to harm my child but may do so anyway.

I want our village to hear my worries and not dismiss them.  I want my village not to say "Your kids are great kids and no one would ever treat them badly because they are great kids."  I want to hear people in my village say "While I personally have not experienced racism, I will not pretend that the potential for racism does not exist."   I don't know what the answers are; I'm not even sure that I agree one hundred percent with the writers of the blogs I've just shared.   But I do know that not thinking about race, not stretching to think through a variety of perspectives, that these thing don't move us as people forward.  As the mom of brown kids, living in a world who shuts out those conversations would make me feel like my village was on a peninsula, jetting out into the ocean, battered by the waves, eroded by the wind, alone.  Today, I'm saying thanks for those who believe that our little house, in the middle of a village, matters.

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