These last few days, weeks and months have been absolutely crazy!!! Yup! I feel it too. The pandemic, the scarcity in grocery stores and the mental fortitude to make it through weeks on end of quarantine (unless you are an essential worker and I say THANK YOU btw!)
But on top of that, the Black community has also been faced with more grief and tragedy with the footage showing the death of #AhmardArbery and #GeorgeFloyd along with the repeated trauma inflicted by the #AmyCooper video. It has been hard, very hard and Black people are weary.
So I decided that the only way to progress is to be vulnerable. I recently had the opportunity to answer some questions in a facebook group that is predominantly white in the hopes that my authenticity would bridge the gap of racial divide for some. I did this because I believe that before we can get through what’s happening, we must first face it. There were tears as I read the questions and tears from many as they asked them, but I know these tears were not in vain. Healing began in our exchange and I know it will continue. Here are the top 3 questions I received and my answers, as a Black mother in this time to them:
I have told my daughter (who recently caught a glimpse of one of the police brutality videos) the truth of what happened then and has happened before.
The reality is that I have to prepare her for the very real possibility she will experience unfair treatment and won’t understand why.
I have explained to her the need to always ALWAYS love herself, but to resist the urge to speak in a way that she may feel (quick anger) because the priority is that she get out of the situation SAFELY…and this is just for overt racism.
Covert racism is a very real and probably even more common thing. For this I have had to explain to her that she will have to work harder just to have her voice considered ‘worthy’ to be heard. And yes, I know that this is not right, but I promised her that I would always be the space and provide spaces for her that celebrate all of who she is and understand the places that may not welcome such.
Then I leave her with hope that says, her mommy is working for a world that changes all of this in the future, even if it is not yet totally happening in the present.
So this is going to be difficult to explain, but I will do my best.
First as a black person, hearing the cry about the protests and the riots and the violence and NOTHING about the death sends a message that we are still minimal. (This is not directed at you specifically but I want to understand what the overarching theme that is communicated when this is spoken of). You see, if there were no deaths (and notice I didn’t say death because our community has had so many) there would be no need for protest and if there were no protests there would be no opportunity for riots.
The other thing to add here (and this is the hardest part) is that most of the people protesting are NOT rioting. I have many associates who are in these spaces and have seen first hand other groups vandalizing and the protestors are being blamed for it. In MN alone, the mayor did a press conference stating that most (if not all) those arrested were from out of state (I’ll post footage of all things below)
But even if there are still a few outliers who are protesting AND rioting the irony of this conversation is this: When a black person is killed by a cop the narrative is that we (the African American community) should know that not ALL cops are bad, however when there are a few rioters in the protest we somehow miss that not ALL protestors are rioting.
The constant demand for our concession is exhausting and painful since there is not as much outcry for the reason this all began in the first place.
We need people who are brave enough to speak up when they see wrong happen and move to make it change if they see the resistance to such.
‘Move’ includes supporting spaces and people that are at the helm of fight, but taking the responsibility to see that you, as an ally, can be the leader in your own community doing the same.
I’m passionate about this because this needs to begin from the youngest of ages. We need change in our education system (which is why I wrote to my daughter’s school) we need change in our churches, our community centers, our libraries, our courthouses, literally everywhere. Be willing to step in and stop anything that looks likes inequality around you and advocate for inclusivity in all aspects. Your children will be advocates and fight for fairness when they see you do it.
Personally, I would feel SO supported knowing that other women used my letter to contact their school. It is one thing to hear that this is coming from a black mom, but imagine what a powerful statement it would be if a school district got this type of letter for EVERY SINGLE PARENT in the school?
I’m not asking for anything more than a chance to live a life as full and free as anyone else and for my children to be afforded the same. This is the ultimate answer to all of your questions.Lydia Elle