Things have been quiet over here. My family and I are on the road driving back home from a week away. We were in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a blogging conference and I decided it’d be fun to turn it into a family road trip. While we were away we learned of the horrific tragedies that took place in the US. Brutal, un-provoked murders of yet two more men. Black men.
We were sitting in a McDonalds for one of our many pit stops during the long drive and a TV was on and turned to the news. The first thing we saw were the headlines. Alton Sterling, a 37 year old black father of 5, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the back and chest after a homeless man called 911 outside of a convenience store.
I’m sure by now, many have been able to read and research this shooting along with that of Philando Castile. Philando. A man who was in the car with his girlfriend and 4 year old child. Stopped for a broken tail light. Both incidents filmed and shared on social media.
In that moment, with the tv on and my middle child right there listening to everything, I knew that I had to do something. Even if it was as small as what I chose to do. Because this is just too much. I turned to my daughter (as my son ate his chicken nuggets and played on my husband’s phone a few inches away within ear shot) and watched her reaction. Watched her take in the information she was hearing and seeing. And I allowed asked questions – as she does about everything. I tried my best to answer. I was open with her. I was honest. And I voiced my opinion.
I am a white woman who fully acknowledges that I live with the white privilege I was born with. And I didn’t fully realize this until earlier last year after speaking with and reading comments from friends and colleagues. I have not stopped reading, watching, and listening to the pain my friends are crying out on social media. The outrage, the anger, and the helplessness they feel. And with this witness to their raw emotion I cannot help but feel drawn towards wanting to do something – anything – to acknowledge it.
And I’m trying to do the only thing I can at the moment. I will try to share those voices, to talk with my black friends, and to educate my children on the inbred racism that not only exists in this country but in our own daily lives. I want them to see me challenge racist comments made by strangers and/or family members. I want them to hear me when I explain their white privilege and how they can use it for good. I am teaching my children to speak up and speak out for and with their black friends. Even if that means calling out a family member or feeling uncomfortable. Or coming to talk to me about it. Because I am teaching my children to respect and to love. To be less judgmental. To be accepting of those who appear different. And to question the events going on around them.
How I’m Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter
Here’s what we’re doing more of:
While my son is still very much in his own world and doing his own thing, my daughter is very aware of the outside world. She hears and sees everything and there’s not much you can keep from her. She’s also pretty darn smart. Now I’m not saying that my son isn’t smart, he’s just not as vocal as she is. With her increased desire to experience the world around her, she asks a lot of questions. A lot. And I’ve tried my very best to be open to her questions and helping her find the answers.
I’ve realized that I can’t shield her from the news. I can’t shield her from hearing the bad that is happening in the world right now. I can’t shield her from her emotions after hearing someone has been shot and died and his kids don’t have a daddy anymore. All I can do is provide a listening ear and help share the information I can find with her. Even if that means I don’t have all of the answers.
Saying “I Don’t Know”
Because I am a white woman, I cannot possibly fully understand what some of my friends are going through right now. The fear they feel as their black husbands walk out the door. The concern they have for their black son’s future. So when I run into a question from my children that I don’t know, I am more than welcome to acknowledge that I don’t have an answer. But I offer to research and read more to help educate us all. I will continue to read personal stories and reactions from those around me and keep my eyes open to what is going on around us.
Acknowledging Our Situation
And with listening and answering my kids questions, as well as helping learn more about what is going on, I also will acknowledge our part in what is going on. I will acknowledge that I cannot speak for those affected. I cannot can only share their voice. And I can teach my children to do the same. I can teach them that there is power in stepping aside and allowing others to speak in our place. Because we can’t even begin to understand what our friends have had to live with their whole lives. And we can only help that by sharing our platform that we can educate others and open their eyes to what is going on right in front of us.
Black Lives Matter.
Lets teach our children to be advocates for change. Let us end unnecessary violence and killings.
And just so it’s clear… I am pro-cop and pro-black. And I am also raising my children to respect law enforcement. I acknowledge the fear that families of law enforcement also live with and appreciate all that those officers and families sacrifice for my family’s safety. Trevor Noah said it better than I could in the statement in the picture above. This statement may be why I’ve only discussed this topic and others with my family and close friends and not publicly. Along with the fact that I’m admittedly really uncomfortable with controversy. Especially when I don’t have all of the answers. I like to be prepared. And I’m not. And it makes me feel uneasy. But if that’s all I have to feel while others feel so, so much more, then I can’t stay silent.
All I ask is that you open your minds and your hearts to hear what the black community has to say.
A few words from my friends and colleagues. I hope you’ll watch and read.
It’s Time For You To Say Something #AltonSterling – Amiyrah Martin
This Is Bullshit #AltonSterling – Amber Dorsey
Groundhog Day of Police Brutality Bullshit. #AltonSterling – Awesomely Luvvie
10 Reasons I Don’t Want To Be Your White Ally – Colleen Mitchell