For the past few days I have been thinking about the rather interesting observation that this presidential season seems to be bringing out, the fact that by and large when you are person of the paler hue, one does not have to think about race on a regular basis.
Seriously, both in my online as well as real life dealings, I have been in contact with white folks who are positively stunned at the blatant racism that is coming out the closet as America seems to be edging closer to possibly having its first Black president. It seems that on an almost daily basis, we are seeing effigies of Obama, folks making asses of themselves on TV about how America is a White Christian nation and only white folks get to be in charge. Shit, I am sure Sears is running out of white sheets in some parts of the country.
The thing is as a Black woman, none of this is surprising to me, shit I would be more surprised if we didn’t have folks doing this shit. See, I was born in the early 70’s yet I have been on the planet long enough as a Black woman to know that despite the strides we have made racially in this country, shit regular readers know my Pops grew up drinking from the colored water fountain and never thought he would have a white son in law. Despite the fact that we have made strides, we still have a long way to go. America has never had a truthful racial dialogue, too many white folks would rather see my ass serving them when I am in a restaurant than see my Black ass getting served.
Don’t get me wrong, thoughts of race don’t consume every moment of my waking day, but honestly there are not too many days that I don’t face that reminder that I am Black. Its just good for me that I love my Black self and accept that being Black is a part of my identity. I can never just be a person because in this world, I am Black first and foremost and that’s cool with me.
My kids are biracial, yet they are being raised and have been raised to understand that most likely folks will view them as Black, so while they can call themselves what they want to, just understand folks may view you differently. Speaking of the kids, my son was 3 when race was brought to his attention and now at 3 my daughter is starting to notice racial differences. It most certainly isn’t anything I have called attention to, but I suspect that children of color notice racial differences sooner than white kids. That’s neither a positive or a negative but just one of those things. I was about 4 or so when I realized race and when I entered kindergarten and was the only kid of color, it was my grand debut into the land of racial differences.
On a parenting board that I hang out at, a white mother encountered a racial minority being mistreated by a white man and her kids were with her and she was at a loss with how to deal with the situation. Other posters (white) suggested that kids are too young to be burdened with dealing with racism. That stunned me because as a Black child, I was raised to understand that sadly racism is something you may encounter yet I have grown white friends who still grapple with dealing with racism. Honestly, I expect it and rather than being surprised I look for ways to move on less I blow a gasket.
Part of why we as a nation have still not moved on is because in my humble opinion, we refuse to talk honestly about race, what the legacy of slavery has meant to millions of African-Americans. How systematic oppression over hundreds of years cannot be wiped out in 40-50 years. Until we get to that point as well as the point of looking at our own internal biases that may cause prejudice deep within us, I truly don’t feel we are making nearly as much progress as we think. No, what we are doing is that type of cleaning when you sweep all the shit into the closet and under the bed but at a certain point, the closet door starts bulging, demanding that you move shit out of the closet. That is where we are at as a nation. The closet doors are becoming unstable.
There are those who feel an Obama presidency will usher in a new era, well it will be a new era, but I suspect Black folks will still get stopped for driving while black. Police brutality will be an issue and all the other injustices will happen. So while I might start looking for my dancing shoes soon for November 5, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to truly achieve racial parity.
As for white folks raising kids, don’t fear talking about injustice with your kids, to do so IMO will create a generation that is truly prepared to tackle injustices head on.