So, I’ve been struggling with how to write, what to write, when to post, when not to post. I’ve been wanting to write something, but didn’t know how or what to say. Didn’t know if it was an appropriate time, didn’t know if people think I was tone deaf for posting about myself during this incredibly earth-shattering time that we are living in.
But then, I thought to myself “staying silent is exactly what part of the problem is”. Not talking about race and racism, is exactly what got us here in the first place. Not addressing the issue, hiding from it because we are afraid (sometimes afraid of doing or saying the wrong things), is why our country and the world is the way it is. I mean, it’s not the only reason, but it’s a contributing factor for sure.
So, I am going to relate to this issue, the only way I know how. I am going to think twice before judging someone (we all do it), I am going to educate myself and my son about the true history of our country and ALL the people that live in it, and I’m going to have truthful conversations with him to ensure he knows what racism is and knows how to react when he sees it.
Living in NYC has always, from what I thought, gave us an advantage. He goes to school in the city’s most diverse borough. He has friends of all colors, he, himself, is the son of a Mexican immigrant. But, as we were reminded most recently, racism is everywhere. Everywhere. And the best way to stop it, is to educate yourself and be the example of the change you want to see in the world. And it starts at home.
We’ve never really sugarcoated anything for Charlie. We’ve always told him the truth about things (sure, we lie about Santa and the Tooth Fairy, we’re not that mean). But, when people in our lives die, he knows that they die. When our Landlord’s (and surrogate Mom/Grandma), dog died, he knew what that meant. Even at 3 years old. We were honest about what was going on with COVID-19 from day one, there was no hiding it really, since we were glued to the news and were panic buying bottled water and black beans (no toilet paper though).
So when George Floyd was murdered, we were honest with him. We talked about a Police Officer doing wrong and what that meant. He asked if he should be scared of Police. We didn’t know what to say. We tried to find the words to explain that all Police Officers, just like all adults, are not good. And sometimes they do bad things that can’t be undone. It was hard because I thought that maybe we were starting to crack his innocence shield. Was there no going back now? Was he going to know that the world was sometimes not only unfair, but a cold and cruel place?
As we were talking a stroll one night for $5 take-out margaritas, Charlie asked about the names that were displayed on the LinkNYC Kiosks. If you don’t know what these are, they’re essentially modern-day payphones. You can make a call, charge your phone, get directions, and they give off free Wi-Fi that you can connect to. They also have huge screens on them that face both directions that often have public service announcements and of course, advertising. On June 2nd, they participated in Black Out Tuesday, and began displaying the names of Black men and women that lost their lives to police brutality. Charlie saw George Floyd’s name displayed and asked why they were doing that. So began another conversation about activism and the importance for standing up for what’s right and having a voice for what you believe in.
This pandemic has been challenging in so many ways. It has tested our family and led to many uncomfortable decisions and conversations. I think however, not only am I a better Mom for it, but a better human.
Black Lives Matter. And as true allies to Black people, it is our duty to have these conversations, tell our kids the truth and make sure that they not only do they not participate in racism, racist actions, but that they can recognize it and speak up when it happens.
I saw a quote on another Mom Blog I follow, Scary Mommy, that said “Our children are leading, it’s time to walk with them”, and it has stuck with me for years. It was originally posted as a response for the March For Our Lives movement that was started by the Parkland shooting survivors. Those kids showed us that our kids are not only our future, but our only hope.