I am saddened, outraged, and confused about the unnecessary killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other human lives. I ask myself, like so many of you, how can racial injustice still thrive in 2020?
As soon as I am ready to begin a dialogue with someone about race, I remind myself that I’m white and I am privileged because of my whiteness. I remind myself that I’m also raising two children, also white, with the same privilege. We go on walks to the creek by our local park – and we don’t even question our safety. We ride our bikes in the street because we trust that others will slow down when they see us. I feel valued and heard when I make a phone call to my child’s school or doctor’s office. I have a steady, fulfilling profession where I can take healthy risks and still be appreciated (and paid).
And while we don’t live a lavish lifestyle, I recognize that the life I’ve created is truly privileged. So, now more than ever, I truly believe it would be more of an injustice to my kids, at the young ages of 6 and 9, to avoid talking about the deep pain points in our country. It would be wrong to ignore what is happening because of thinking such as: my kids are too young, my son has autism, and I must protect them from the ugliness of the world. …
In fact, in a recent conversation with my son, Buddy, who sees things in one box or another (and never in a basket), I learned just how disheartening today’s climate is for our children. After reviewing some visual cards to break down the story of “why” George Floyd was killed, my son said, “I don’t get it, Mom.”
My response to him was about trying to understand what part he didn’t understand. Was it the part where Mr. Floyd was arrested or the part where people became very angry. I even asked him to repeat what he knew to me. And, he did understand the sequence of events.
After talking some more I learned that Buddy didn’t get the heartlessness of acts of violence. He didn’t understand why Mr. Floyd’s skin color even mattered. Autism or no autism, Buddy understands the basis of humanity.
And, I agree with him.
Today, I commit to asking myself the difficult questions about my role in our countries’ current racial tension. I will have real conversations with my children about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and more. I promise to shut down conversations that allude to racial bias, because my kids need to know that as a white individual it is my duty to be an ally for others. And, I will be fierce in my belief that talking about racism won’t create a divide; rather, it will lead to inclusive, productive conversations. Part of being a white mother in today’s world is more than just teaching my kids about being kind and inclusive. It is about showing them their own power in fighting against racism – and in always being an ally for another person.