This is an open letter to my children and all my beloveds. Please share it, and join me? It does not escape me that even black men got the vote before women did. We know what oppression is, and it has only made us stronger. WE can do this!
I am a mother and a grandmother. This is fundamentally who I AM. First, foremost, and forever. It struck me hard yesterday when I reached out to speak to my treasured daughter-in-love, the only black member of our family. In the wake of all that is brewing in our world, with the sadness and despair and confusion and embarrassment to be a white human I’ve been feeling, I belatedly wondered how Claire must be feeling. We had a long and fruitful conversation, and I came away with a new resolve. As a mother and grandmother, it’s up to me to learn what it means to be anti-racist and to see that my children and theirs learn too.
Claire pointed out two disturbing ideas to me, thinks I had never thought before.
1) In families of color, children are actively taught, from a very young age, about racism, and how it will affect them, and how they must learn to prepare themselves, and how critical that knowledge is to their very lives. In white families, race is seldom if ever discussed, unless that family is racist. And then, it’s not really a discussion, but rather a thread in the weave of the family dialogue, coloring every action and interaction with fellow human beings. Racism is actively taught. That we all know. It’s time we learned to teach anti-racism. Way past time.
Remembering my own natal family, and even among my sons, I remember that profanity was one of those threads. My first word was famously profane. My parents seldom spoke a full sentence without profanity. I allowed my four sons to say whatever they wanted because I wanted them to voice their feelings, rather than acting on them violently. Whether or not that was a good choice, it was made with good intention. As an elder, I have long ago learned that the ability to school one’s language goes hand in hand with the ability to be mindful of one’s place among his fellow man. Aww, hindsight.
2) She noted that people seeing a black man beaten or otherwise abused is a too-common sight and one that does not always engender outrage. Let that victim be a dog, and the whole world will cry out in horror. Abusing animals is not allowed. Abusing black people is up for debate. That makes me cry. I remember in my own natal family that animals were treated with much more kindness and dignity than children. I had never seen that connection before. Of course, I don’t want to see animals abused, nor any living being, but as a member of a society that is so run amok, I’m beginning to see where some of these detours from humanity might begin.
You can’t know what you don’t know until you can. To not know something is a form of innocence. To ignore what you don’t know, and refuse to learn about it, is ignorance. I choose to learn. I encourage my children to do the same. I won’t stop asking.
I’m beginning with this list compiled for white people to learn and teach their children about anti-racism. Please check it out. I also saw a very eye-opening movie on Netflix the other day, Hillary Swank in “Freedom Writers”, a true story very well presented.
I love you all dearly.