It is remarkably interesting that I would sit down to write about my experience on a day that I feel like I just do not have any more to say. The past few months have been an unveiling of sorts. I have seen even more how people that I hold dear to my heart, feel about humanity issues. It has for sure kept me up at night wondering how I knew someone so well, but never really knew them at all. Then George Floyd’s murder happened. Now, we are unmasking how we really feel about black people. Not me or my daughter because, we are you know, “different”. My poor daughter, that sweet vibrant soul, is only four years old but has already been given a label.
She is oblivious. She has no idea how many lives have been lost. She has no idea how many challenges she will face when she transitions over from the cute little girl, to the over sexualized, angry, black woman. Right now, I can barely process it for myself. The right words haven’t come to me to explain why her beloved father and uncles are walking targets. How do I make her understand the world is different for her, while teaching her not only to go out and see it but conquer it as well. As I teach her to love her perfect curls and flawless brown skin, I wonder if she’ll feel lied to when she learns that people will use it to hurt her in her future. It’s all just so complex.
In efforts to be part of the solution I have had more of those tough conversations than I can count. Three of them have totally broken something in my spirit. I shared my very raw personal experiences with racism. Almost making a desperate plea to them to not only feel empathy for me, but the black people in their communities that go through these experiences day in and day out. The first conversation I was attempting to explain was why it is important to me to know the core values my friends hold. In this case, why she is a Donald Trump supporter. I shared with her three stories of overhearing the N-word at my friend’s homes. She told me it is unfortunate that I would “hinder” myself and my child based on the actions of a few people. Hinder? HINDER?
The next conversation, I was trying to open the eyes of what I thought was a dear friend that the term, “All Lives Matters” is problematic. During our conversation about race relations, she was understanding and validating. She said all the things I needed to hear from her, but at the end conversation was just incapable of letting “ALM” go. In my heart of hearts, I know she doesn’t come from a hateful place. I know she has decades of knowledge to rework before allowing herself to accept my perspective as a black woman, but it was still hurtful.
The last situation I will cite was with someone I also considered to be a closer friend as well. She shared a post on Facebook about not knowing what to say as a white person. I took the time to answer the post privately, well, outside of Facebook. That text message has not been responded to. Let me take that back, there was a very passive-aggressive post shortly after I texted her that said something to the effect of, “do not let the misery of others steal your joy”. Misery? MISERY! How could someone I respected, and looked up to so much minimize, my experiences and the unsolicited experiences of so many others by just calling us miserable.
With that I was done. I no longer had any knowledge I wanted to share. I couldn’t handle any more heartache. I feel like I’m in a mourning period. There has been a huge shift in the atmosphere since March. It has altered life as we know it on a universal and personal level. This includes the landscapes of our friendships. Some will be forever changed, and others simply won’t survive, and that is a lot. I try to show myself grace as a mother throughout this time. Mostly because I am trying to shield her from the hurt in this world, and that of my heart, but majorly because I have trusted so many with her that will never truly see her. The inability may be their scope. It’s just painful to know some of it is willful ignorance.
I’m not sure if I’ve gotten my across clearly enough but parenting a black child through all of this presents challenges that are unimaginable. Who to trust? How long to shelter her? How to keep her God given innocence intact? How much exposure is too much? What exposure will save her life? These questions don’t begin to put a dent in my daily thoughts. All I know is I really don’t have the answers, and right now I barely have the energy to do anything but love on my baby.