"Now we know you are a closet racist."
"You don’t have the right to talk about racism. You are white. You can’t understand."
"People like you are the reason why inequality continues in this country."
I’ll tell you why I am writing about it. It’s because I am thinking about it. It’s because I have two sons born with the original sin of White Privilege upon them.
A while ago I read a blog post, When You Carry Your Difference on Your Skin, that included a story about how the author had to explain to her non-white son that he could not take toy guns to the local park,
"There was a day when I had to talk to him about how it wasn't okay to play with realistic looking guns at the park, and had to tell him why the white boys he was playing with likely didn't have to worry about that kind of thing."
The post was good and worth a read. But, while reading that post, it dawned on me for the first time that people proactively teach their children that their experiences in identical situations will be different than my children’s because of their skin color. She was teaching them that my sons have White Privilege.
Ok, so I am going to be real honest here... my first thought was, "OMG, her children are going to grow up resenting my children. She is implanting a chip on the shoulder."
I understand why she needs to educate her children about the discrimination they might face and the risks it imposes on them. (Read that sentence again before leaving me a comment ripping me on this.) But I am pretty confident that telling your kids negative stuff about whole other groups of people can lead to their mistrust and even hatred of that group.
The author and I had a, tenuous at best, FB relationship based on us both being the mother of a child with Down syndrome. I could have kept my mouth shut, but people who do that never learn anything. So I asked about it. Lots of people answered, and I learned that raising my kids to be color-blind is not the right way to work toward racial harmony. I also learned that trying to talk about difficult stuff with people who barely know you ends budding friendships and cultivates silence.
But I am not going to be silent. I am going to talk about race, and say that I do not know the right way to talk to my children if teaching them to see people as individuals & colorless is wrong. I do know that my children were born innocent blank slates, and regardless of the systems they were born into, they are still as yet, innocent. And they are still very much blank slates. I not only have a right to talk about race, it would seem that I also have an obligation to do so with them.
And now this has become a very sticky thing because I am not clear on or convinced about White Privilege and how just my existing within our current systems is somehow perpetuating racial inequality. And I am not going to tell my sons that they are, because of their original sin, privileged oppressors. I am guessing I am not alone in this. That said, I am in search of the right words, the right narrative... one that will grow them into caring people guided by a belief in truth, equal opportunity, and justice for all people, regardless of gender, physical ability, skin color, nationality, sexual orientation, weight, attractiveness, or intellectual ability.
My next step is reading Chip Smith’s The Cost of Privilege: Taking On the System of White Supremacy and Racism.Perhaps he will explain to me what my role as an individual and a parent is if I want to be a part of ensuring that all Americans have the baseline existence that I have.
I’ll let you know what I learn.