I read this post this morning by Arwyn over at Raising My Boychick, and while I know most of y’all don’t click the links, I implore you to read her piece. It’s worth the click. It dawned on me after reading her post that we are all victims when racism and hate win out. In the near month since Trayvon Martin was killed and the outrage has grown, the focus has been on the plight of young black men who are clearly targeted. Yet the sad truth is we all lose when these types of hateful and cowardice acts occur.
The thing is, many white folks will offer their condolences and sympathy when these acts occur and many will even admit they are glad they won’t know ever know the possible pain of losing a son to hate, but the reality is that is a rather simplistic way of looking at things. As Arwyn rightly points out in her piece while her son may never be the target, he sure could grow up to pull the trigger and if that happens it’s not one Mama who loses a son but two.
It’s no secret now that in Black families we raise our kids with frank discussions about race and difference from an early age. We know too well that we don’t have the luxury or privilege of ignoring it and waiting until we deem that our kids are ready. Yet the sad fact is that while many white families think they have the luxury of ignoring race and difference, the reality is you don’t either.
If you wait until your kid is 6 or 7 or even older to talk race and difference, it’s too late. By the time you decide to have the talk, your child has already figured out the many ways in which whiteness is prized and darkness is not and the seeds are planted that could possibly harvest a rotten harvest decades later.
I think very few people in 2012 intentionally set out to raise racist kids but in almost 4 years of working primarily with low income white youth, trust me when you don’t talk race and difference, they learn hate from the greater world. My center in the past year has experienced a browning due to an influx of Sudanese and Iraqi refugees settling in our area. A few weeks ago, several of our Iraqi kids were speaking in Arabic when a lovely girl who happens to be white told them “You are in America, knock it out and speak English” We were all stunned and knowing this child’s family, I doubt she learned that at home, but in the greater world. I encounter similar incidents when young white kids attempt to speak to me in some half assed Ebonics they heard on television…mind you I don’t speak that way at work and I doubt their parents do. My point being that if we don’t establish a good foundation for our kids, someone else will do it and may not be nice.
To paraphrase Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother at a rally “Trayvon is not just her son, but all our son’s, this is a not a white or black thing” It really isn’t and until we start getting serious about realizing that, the cycle of hate that creates a George Zimmerman will continue. As I tweeted earlier today, I can’t imagine George’s mother is too happy knowing that daily the odds are increasing that her son will be locked up. In the end two sons lose because of hate. It’s no longer enough to strive to be a good person and not actively hate, you need to do more and your kids need to see it early on.