I don’t know. I don’t know how to solve the issues of racism in America. I don’t know if they can be solved. I do know I am sad. I, a white mom, am raising an eleven-year-old mixed-race son. His dad is black. Before my son entered this world, I knew he would face problems I had never encountered. I had hoped the issues would become less prominent and severe as the years progressed, but that clearly isn’t the case right now.
My son and I have had very open and candid conversations since he was young enough to understand. I have done my best to be honest with him through the years in hopes that he will continue to come to me with tough questions as he matures. We have been reading and discussing African American and U.S. history and culture since he was in pre-school.
I continually push him to try his hardest and always be his personal best. At times he thought I was seeking perfection from him; others have told me I’m too hard on him. But, this week, before we even discussed George Floyd’s tragic murder, he finally got it. Something clicked; he finally, truly understands.
This boy that should be enjoying the new-found freedoms of venturing out with friends without constant adult supervision, realized he will never fully be able to relish in that. He will always have to be cautious—cautious of what he wears, how and where he walks, what he says and who he says it to. He’s already experienced having to work twice as hard as his classmates to prove he is equal. He already knows when to be silent and keep his eyes to the floor at school because a certain staff member came into the room. The other night, as we drove home and our conversation progressed, it was both wonderful and heart-breaking to hear him articulate why I have been so hard on him over the years. He knows he will always have to be mindful of these things to disprove that he is not some pre-conceived black stereotype.
I have begun praying, daily, that America is able to find peaceful resolutions during this horrific time. The saddest part of all of this is that the majority of black people don’t embody the stereotypes they are judged by—the majority of law enforcement aren’t cruel, abusive, and reckless—the majority of true protesters aren’t violent, rioting looters. Unfortunately, all of these groups are being judged by the actions of a few cruel, violent, reckless people.
I don’t have the solution to America’s racism issues, but I do have one plea. Please, raise your children, no matter their race, to be mindful and respectful of differences. The best way for us to teach it, is to exemplify it. Instead of hating and demeaning someone for looking and acting different from our own personal beliefs, accept that they have that right and move on with our own lives. Instead of teaching our kids to judge others by their appearance, teach them to choose friends based on how they see and hear their peers treating others. Instead of standing by, watching, and filming someone do injustices, whether they be verbal or physical, stand up, speak up, and try to stop them. Until this is the norm, we will continually be plagued with the status quo.