Friday, August 18, 2017

Milestones

Tell the truth and tell it fast. 

My daughter started second grade on Wednesday. We walked to school and talked about how to make the day and year a good one. How to be kind to others, to be inclusive, to make new friends, to focus on reading and writing. We talked about race, and disability, and stranger danger. New year, all new pep talks. 

After I dropped her off in the sea of children, I walked home and cried all the way. Another milestone. This stone is heavy. 

A milestone marks where you are and also where you've been. This summer was a voyage. My daughter and I crossed so many milestones that I feel we've moved into the deep sea. I know how to swim. She's still learning. 

I was born in a lower income home to a single, young mother, living with retired grandparents. We were heavy on love, light on money. I was born a girl. I was born white. I am very aware of my privilege now but no more so than this week talking to my daughter about race. 

My daughter is colorblind. She's doesn't fully know that she's white.  She doesn't understand that because she's white, she has privileges that kids who are not white don't have. She still calls people of color tan or brown skinned. (I'm working on that but damn it's complicated.) Explaining this to a six year old is daunting but not as daunting as saying so. 

I get to choose when to talk with my daughter about race. This is not true for families of color -- I am aware that many families have to talk about race every single day, or at least have to question if something happened or was said because of their skin color alone. 

As our society changes and melds more, my daughter is a poster-child of a white American female. She's fair, and tan, and blonde, and blue-eyed, and perky. A near stereotype of a surfer or cheerleader. I'm her proud, loving mother (not blonde or perky.) She is kind, and funny, and smart, and dear. She's my favorite kid in the world, hands down.

How do I teach her about race? I want to know. How do I tell her about hateful people with torches and murderous rage? 

How do I protect her from the world and teach her about it, and teach her in a way that she will really understand?  Can I protect her anymore? Do I let it hurt and hold space?

What's the way to teach her respect and difference? Not to be colorblind but to be aware that there are many people in this country (and world) that have to fight daily for and are unable to reach the level of privilege that we have just by being born white? 

How do I tell her that the game is rigged? Rigged so people of color can't win. That we are all asked over and over again to trade a piece of our humanity to participate in this game of white patriarchal governance. And we do, because it's the only hope of change. It's the only game in town. 

And how do I teach her that there is nothing wrong with her? That she is a perfect child of god just like all children. That being white, that privilege, is something that you can't control.  

How do I teach her that it's the ways privilege translates into blind entitlement that is so disgusting, and morally wrong, and so easy to ignore? 

And how misusing privilege is criminal?

How do I forgive myself that she doesn't know already? 

This game may be rigged but I'm playing. I'm all in. I'm an accomplice in this fight for racial justice, for racial equality. 

I'm playing for freedom, for gender equality, for women's right and bodily freedom, for trans rights, LGBTQA+ rights, for human rights, for love and peace and harmonious equality for all people. 

I will learn how to teach my daughter. I will make mistakes. It will not be easy. I will use my privilege to help others leading the way. Our leaders are in place. I will follow their lead. 

I will not allow my neighbor to tell racist jokes, not to me, I will tell him so. I will not allow the kid at the pool to call his buddy a "pussy" on the diving board without rebuke. I will stand up and speak and show my daughter by example. I will sit down with her and talk about what's happening in the world and what she can do to help. 

What else can I do? I will find out and get back with you. 

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