Unless something changes, my children won’t have the same opportunities as those around them.
I want to go back.
This picture was taken on a trip to Disney World in. Our youngest daughter was just about to turn 3. The only thing she loved more than Cinderella’s castle was her daddy. He had just raced through the streets of the theme park toward the castle with his little girls clasped in each arm. “The princesses are arriving!” He shouted. They giggled with glee and I trailed behind with our son in the stroller. I rolled my eyes at the absurdity of it but I couldn’t stop laughing. His happiness was in his daughters’ delight. He would bring them the world to make them smile. His joy poured from him and reflected in their faces.
Breathless, I finally caught up and began to unbuckle our son and raise him to my shoulders. I looked up to see our youngest daughter grab my husband’s face. Princesses paraded all around but she had stopped to look into the eyes of her hero. My Nikon dangled from my wrist and I picked it up just in time to snap the picture.
The first time I saw my daughter, the sight of her took my breath away. She’s grown now and still her presence causes my heart to fill with joy.
I see her color.
I see her race.
I see her birth mom mirrored in her smile. I see the way her skin shimmers as soft as satin in the bright sun. I have the honor of looking into her eyes as she speaks. Eyes so dark they remind me of midnight. Her hair curls into tiny, perfectly formed tendrils, I wrap them around my finger as I comb and pull them into a thousand braids. When I think of being the mother of someone so beautiful my chest feels so full I think it will burst.
I see her heart too.
She feels the emotions of others deeply. She is sensitive and kind. She is strong-willed and fierce. She is wickedly smart but often hesitant to let the world know. She never puts her laundry away but always apologizes when I get frustrated. She is a gifted writer. Words float from her brain to her pen with ease. She sings with a voice like an angel. She is a friend. She is a daughter. She is my daughter.
She is valuable.
She is treasured.
She is Black.
Her life matters.
I thought the world knew that. I thought the world would see my daughter the way I see her. When she was a baby, I believed that I lived in a time of healing. I envisioned that I lived in a place of equality. I don’t. My friends and neighbors don’t. My sons and daughters don’t.
I have witnessed my Black children get in trouble while white children doing the same thing, walk away uncorrected. I have stood in the gap when a teacher, store clerk or neighbor assumed that my children were doing wrong. For a while, I could protect them with my whiteness. I could make the small steps of calling out and correcting racism and bias here in my hometown. That isn’t enough. They are grown now. I don’t go to the store with them, or drive in the car with them, or go to work with them and I shouldn’t have to.
We should live in a time peace and equality, instead, we live in a time of tension, murder and racial inequality. We live in a time of fear and uncertainty. My children, friends and family face racism and white bias alone every day.
Our children don’t see their stories in history books, television, or movies. The media does not share information that promotes their value. Unless something changes, they won’t have the same expectation of education or salary or inclusion or even LIFE.
When my children were babies, I was blind. I don’t know if I want to see. My eyes are being pried open and the bright light of clarity rushes in. I wince from the pain and wonder…did the man Jesus healed feel the same way? His story sounds like a dream but the details are a little uncomfortable.
Mark 8:22-25 (NIV):
“Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’ Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
It was messy. Jesus’ spit, dirty hands, and a pair of blind eyeballs! At first the man could only see a little. Jesus touched him again and his sight was restored. I wonder if for a moment he panicked. I wonder if having all of his previous understandings challenged, did he wish to go back to the darkness for just a moment? I do. I wish for a moment to see my daughter as I once did, with the nieve belief that the world would rise to meet her.
I wish for her to see me one more time without the knowledge of the racially charged fear that lies between her race and mine. I’m thankful because, although the discomfort is sharp, it soon brings clarity. My vision is stronger now. I see the hurt and I feel the tension. I no longer wish to go back. I no longer wish to live blind but only to move forward with clearer sight.
I wrote this post four years ago. I am heartbroken that it is more true today than it was then.
I have largely stayed quiet on racial issues these last four years. The hate that spewed from some of our readers nearly silenced me for good. I have since learned that someone who argues with me about the value of another human’s life, isn’t someone I want in my court anyway.
I have been quiet these past four years but this time has not been wasted. The quietness has made room for the amplification of other voices. I have spent this time listening and learning at the feet of Black educators. I am using my curiosity to research our American history for myself and have unlearned much of the whitewashed narrative I used to believe.
I have spent this time holding space for the weary hearts of my own children who are rising toward their place in this world every day.
I will not center myself in this fight for justice that has played out in our country since the first Europeans stepped foot on this land.
This is what you need to know about me. I condemn the systemic racism that has lived in this country since the beginning.
If you are a Black parent, I want you to know that our family stands with you. We are relearning history, speaking up for injustice, donating our time, resources and money to the organizations that are already doing this important work.
If you are a white parent wondering what you can do right now, here are a few ideas.
LISTEN: Listen to Black people and believe their stories, experiences and their perspective. Listening is best done quietly.
LEARN: Do not ask Black people to educate you, hold your hand or answer your questions or comfort you. Learn from reading their work and listening to their experiences, learn for yourself. Use Google. Use the library. There are many, many, many Black content creators on social media and online providing educational resources. Many have paid content, research these and choose one or two that you can support financially as your learn from them.
EDUCATE: Teach your children. Talk around your dinner table and when tucking them into bed at night. Correct narratives that promote racism and encourage your children to be curious learners along with you. For instance: In our home we are discussing Independence Day, we now know that half of our family and friends didn’t gain their independence on the 4th of July so we will be planning a different observance moving forward.
READ: Diversify your bookshelf.
FOLLOW: Social media accounts, blogs and grassroots movements in your area that are founded by Black leaders.
DO: Support advocacy groups who are already on the ground working to change the systems that support racism. Use your skills to support their work (remember not to center yourself.) You do not have to have any special skills to support someone else, you may be able to make phone calls, send emails, march, research and donate money.
PRAY: If you are a person of faith, pray for the courage to stand for justice the way that Jesus did.