As I contemplate my almost conquered garden - pictures later - I’d like to draw you towards two interesting discussions happening on Anti-Racist Parent. Recently Maegan "la Mala" Ortiz and our own dear Tami Winfrey had some insightful posts.
Deep, sweet, profound Maegan wrote three intense vignettes about those things we don’t want to expose our children to... but have to because we are all alive in America. Blessed be! Thank you world for providing “learning-all-the-time-opportunities!” Pitooey!
I don’t frequent Anti-Racist Parent frequently. In fact, I only visit when wonderful Deesha at Mamalicious posts something. After reading Maegan’s post and reviewing the comments, all I could think was:
Why is it that a majority of majority parents think that anti-racist parenting involves dancing in a field of sunflowers with gingham-clad pick-a-ninnies and blonde cherubs with linked hands singing some weird hybrid of We Shall Overcome and the Star-Spangled Banner?
Hear my imagination a moment:
National (Black) Anthem Remix
O! say can you see by the dawn's early lightOkay - I have a strange imagination...
We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
We're on to victory, We're on to victory,
We're on to victory someday;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
We'll walk hand in hand, we'll walk hand in hand,
We'll walk hand in hand someday;
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
We are not afraid, we are not afraid,
We are not afraid today;
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
The truth shall make us free, the truth shall make us free,
The truth shall make us free someday;
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
We shall live in peace, we shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace someday..
which it made me think - that’s a nice goal...
but I need to keep my son alive long enough for me to be a grandmother. And these White women seem to think I’m always hunting racism rather than racism always hunting me. I don’t know what I do to provoke it. I’m always just standing there as innocent as innocent can be. Then, !RACISM! leaps up and tries to bite my ass.
It killed Sean Bell. It killed Darryl Turner. I can’t remember a time when Black boys and men weren’t born with a target on their backs. No. I’m not paranoid. Go sign up for a newsfeed titled “Black male man boy killed by police.” Check back with me in 2 months - maybe sooner. Then prove to me how much I’m looking for racism.
But enough! Everyone always needs a little chocolate syrup on their disappointment pie. So, Tami had the courage to discuss the alienation so many middle-class Blacks face when making the right choices for their family. (This, of course after Hilarious tries to divide our community by portraying Obama as elitist. Suddenly - all of us who scrabbled through are checking our elitist pedigree and pruning or purging our family trees n favour of unity.) Tami's brave post How To Teach Diversity In A Diversity Free Zone was right on point.
For me, there was a moment of EEEk! The dirty laundry! And then the calm of standing back to notice the entire neighbourhood has dirty laundry. I made a comment there that I haven’t had the courage to make here. This comment was generated from the exact same awareness of the strange serendipity which brought my husband and me together. We met. We connected. We danced; had dinners; saw great shows. We had some profoundly great sex. And in the afterglow we both looked at each other and without saying anything, we both thought, I always wanted a close Black friend.
So, why can’t we figure out a way to deliver this to our son? (IE - a deep, trusting familiarity and comfort with Brown people.) Why should I worry tha the majority of his closest friends are blonde and blue-eyed? Will there even be an impact on his identity psyche? And finally, will it even matter when he is 21 - especially if we work our asses off now to raise consciousness; make connections based on shared values; and do what we can for those who do not share our current advantages?
Like Tami - I have no answers.
Except one which I was trying to avoid. Why is it that it always seems to come back to some upstart man with a Mother much like my husband’s who insists, Yes, We Can And somehow - eyes wide open - I have to try to make that reality for myself.