How Do I Make the Journey Easier?
Black Children/White World: How Do I Make the Journey Easier? at soulbrother v.2 really touched a chord in me. As a white(ish)* mother of three multiracial children, I’ve struggled with many of the issues described by Maxwell Reddick, a black father of three… right down to our sons being more confident in their racial identity than two of our daughters are. Despite those similarities, there are profound differences between our families, communities, and most certainly, the perspective through which each of us views the world.
I have attempted to teach my children who they are, what they are. I have attempted to instill in them pride in who they are, what they are. But often I cannot find the right words. Often I am faltering in my speech. And too often I contradict myself in words and deeds.
But in the meantime, I fear they and other African American children like them are sinking gradually into the frigid depths of a cold naked abyss, and I am unable to find a rope long enough or strong enough to throw down to them and pull them to a place of safety.
What advice to you have for me?
I wanted to share how my children have never heard me refer to another human being by their race, unless it was to describe them physically (You know Miss So & So… she’s tall, Hispanic, and has long black hair). Well, except for the story about the crazy white lady that threatened to call CPS on me in Walgreens. I just call her that crazy white lady. I don’t hesitate to challenge people who make stereotypical comments in my presence, and on the rare occasions where I’ve heard one of my children start to bag on somebody, I cut them off and let them know… that’s not how we do things around here. In terms of his daughter immersing herself in whiteness, I wanted to encourage him to find a way to expose her to a more diverse peer group, even if it meant taking a Saturday class in another city. When it became evident that I wasn’t going to be able to give my multiracial children the community that I thought they needed because even though we work together and our kids go to school together, for the most part we don’t socialize, live, or worship together… I eventually did the only thing I could do to change that… I moved. I knew that even though the move would benefit my children, they were still going to be “racial others.” I couldn’t change that, so I tried to give them dialogue for those times that who or what they are is challenged, and I wanted to ask him how he responded to family members who criticize him or his children for “acting white” and if he’d talked to his kids about ways that they could respond without being disrespectful… which is tricky when dealing with family members, especially those of an older generation.
As much as I want to offer up my mantra to BE the change you want to see in the world and how I think that concious choice has impacted how my children see themselves and others, I’m not sure it would be relevant to him in his situation… not to mention I am CLEARLY not “over” my own insecurities with discussing racial issues in public forums. Because I’ve tried to comment on his blog on three different occasions, and everything I said just sounded so Great White Hope.
I guess it’s just one more thing we still just don’t do very well with each other… talk about race.
*I can’t deny it, but I can’t quite make myself claim it, either… white people have good knee-grows and bad knee-grows too.