It’s not a well kept secret. My picture is on the right hand side of your screen right now.
Seven of my eleven children are black.
That’s not a secret either.
I’ve never wanted it to be. I wouldn’t change one single thing about who they are, or really, who I am.
Because of the now well acknowledged difference between the color of my skin and theirs, I spend quite a bit of time on social media, and the internet in general, listening to people of color tell me about what it’s like to live in this world when you’re not white. I want to know. I want to understand. The only way that’s possible is by listening to other people, really listening to ALL people.
Yesterday, I scrolled through my Facebook feed and saw the picture of a sweet little black girl in a knee length dress, standing behind a fence with a crowd of white onlookers pointing at her. She was being fed bananas. You see, she lived in a zoo. A human zoo. One where, apparently, white people went to look at black people. A friend had posted an article about the history of these zoos.
I thought that nothing about this could possibly be true. It must be like all those stories you see on Facebook about essential oils that can cure small pox and how Christians in the U.S. are the most persecuted group in the world. You know, the ones that are completely fabricated. It can’t be true, right?
Except, it is. While the picture I saw was taken in Europe, the human zoos apparently happened in the U.S. too. Why did that surprise me? It shouldn’t. After all, how did black people get to the U.S.? On boats, for the direct purpose of becoming property of people who look like me. Property, like a dog is property. Like a horse. Like an animal.
This is my children’s heritage.
Today, as I scrolled my feed again. I saw George Zimmerman trending. Apparently, he is auctioning off the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin. Yes, he is auctioning off a weapon he used to kill an unarmed teenage boy who is the same color as my son. Obviously, I’m going to have feelings about this. You should too. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Zimmerman “standing his ground” (FYI, if you do, you’re reading the absolute wrong blog), you can’t possibly maintain that this is any kind of acceptable. This man, this monster, is in one second reducing a boy to an animal again. This monster is auctioning this gun as if it was a trophy, something he used to take down a prize winning…human.
This is a human. This human has a mother. While I can’t possibly understand what a person of color in this country lives with, because I will never be one, and it would be complete appropriation on my part to claim I could, I can feel for his mother. I can feel 1/100th, 1/1000th, 1/1,000,000th of what this must do to her. I imagine her sitting with her coffee this morning, scrolling her Facebook feed, and seeing his face. He’s trending again. He’s trending because he took her son away. She must be re-living it all over again.
How much more can she take? How much more of this can anyone take? When will enough become enough? I’m talking to the white people now. Specifically, to the white mothers I know who read this blog. I’ve plead with you before. I’m doing it again today. I’m doing it because I’m an eternal optimist and I think change can happen, for our children.
I don’t know what has happened, what went wrong with our generation, maybe it was the whole ‘our world is colorblind’ garbage we were brought up with? Maybe it was the indifference, the denial, the obnoxious disregard. Whatever it was, it bred a generation that hasn’t acknowledged that we have it better, simply because of the color of our skin.
We can do better though. You can do better. For your kids. For my kids.
Tonight, I will go to my children who are old enough to access the internet, and I will explain to them why this monster is trending on social media, yet again. I will look them in the face and apologize for the world, yet again. I like to think I would do this no matter what color their skin is, but I don’t know that I would. It’s not the way I was raised. We never discussed these things because they had no effect on us as a white family.
They do now.
They effect all of us now.
The world is no longer just white.
Please, sit your children down. If you can’t find the words to tell them about this monster and his gun, please, find the words to talk to them about the beauty in differences, about seeing color, and respecting people for who they are, ALL of who they are.
–FullPlateMom, who has three hours to try to find the words.