I have a question: Who decided that blindness was a good thing? When did that happen? I’m 36 and so many of my White friends were raised with this notion that “we don’t see color” and “we’re all the same”. Guess what? WE’RE NOT.
I wake up every day in a country where my son could be shot for playing with a water gun on the street and where my daughter could be brutalized for inviting friends to our neighborhood pool and where taking my children to Bible study is an act of bravery. My White friends don’t live in that country. They don’t live with that fear. It doesn’t even occur to some of them to be afraid for me. They are shocked every time something like the Charleston Massacre happens. I’m not. I’m not because as much as I love them we are not the same.
Why is that bad? Why do we all have to close our eyes to all of the wonderful differences in order to have equality? Who decided this? Whoever it is was wrong.
Color is still there whether you teach your kids about it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not. You can tell your child that everyone is equal, but the world will tell them the exact opposite and if you don’t equip them for that world then you are part of the problem. Everyone is NOT the same.
I need you to open your eyes. I need you to see color. I need you to see the color of your neighbors who are being brutalized and killed. We are standing all around you and we are dying because you cannot see us.
I don’t want there to be a day when ‘color doesn’t matter’. My grandparents illegal marriage should always matter. My great-grandfather’s enslavement should always matter. My father’s fear riding through Mississippi registering voters should always matter. The Native American holocaust should always matter. Japanese internment should always matter. Today is Juneteenth, that should always matter. The list goes on and on and on.
You want to know how to stop more massacres? Buy your children books that center on children that look nothing like them. Learn about the history and the present of cultures other than your own. Tell them the truth about the country that we live in. Raise them to see the differences and to know that the differences are what make us stronger. The differences can bind us together if we let them.
No one ever told the terrorist who murdered nine people in Mother Emanuel that Black people are human beings. No one ever told him that we are citizens of this country. No one ever told him that we have souls. No one ever told him that we have worth. Don’t tell me how sad it is that we have to say those things in this day and age – be sad, that’s fine – but please tell them to your children anyway.
This is not the last time something like this will happen. If you really want it to stop, if you really want me to not have to live in fear every day you will have to actually do some work. You’ll have to teach your children. You’ll have to stand up to your friends. You’ll have to do some research and learn some history and you’ll have to call out those who won’t. I can’t stop another mass killing of Black people by White people. Only other White people can do that. You cannot do that while willfully blind.
I need you to open your eyes. I need you to stand up. I am scared. I’ve been scared for years, but since my son was born I have lived in a state of terror that I think only mothers of children of color can understand. His father’s Whiteness cannot save him. I cannot save him There are targets on our backs and prices on our head. I cannot remove them.
The terrorist was caught. That’s good. There are 200,000 signatures on a petition to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds. That’s good too. There are rallies and marches and all of that is good. None of it is enough. In a week the funerals will be over and the cameras will be gone. We’ll be reading about another young Black boy shot to death by police for being suspicious or once again we won’t hear a word when it happens to a young Black girl. Another young man will tell racist jokes to his friends and they’ll brush it off because it doesn’t really mean anything… until it does. It will never stop until everyone, until you reading this right now – you open your eyes and then open your mind and then open your mouth. You need to stand up no matter how uncomfortable it is. We’re dying. Comfort is no longer the goal.
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