I was about 6 or 7 years old when I came home from school. I was running quickly, and had tears caked on my cheeks from the amount of crying I had done. A boy my color had told me that I was “black” and that I was also ugly, because I was black. I was not the right kind of black in the country I was living in. My adopted mother put me on her lap and told me that I was indeed black but I was not ugly.
My question here is….why am I hearing that I am black at age 7?
Race is something that should be talked about in every single family. People should feel comfortable embracing different cultures…and this does not mean enjoying a famous black man’s basketball, baseball, or golfing talent. This does not mean taking 30mn out of your day to watch Black-ish with your kids.
I’m tired of being the one bringing up race at any given time in my family. And by my family, I don’t mean my immediate family. By my family I mean my extended family on both sides.
I talk about race, because as a black woman, I need to. I bring up race because guess what, when you are a black woman EVERYTHING is about race.
You may be asking in your mind “how is everything about race?” Thanks for asking.
Let’s say my daughter cuts herself and we need to go to the convenient store to pick up some band-aids. Will we find band-aids that fit our color?
Let’s say your black son is hitting adolescence and starting to have a bit of BO….will any deodorant work for him? NO!
And this is not even about the odor. This has to do with residue.
See, many deodorants leave a white residue, that is not seen on white people, but yes on black people. Just because it says “dries clear” does not mean it dries clear on darker skin.
When a child cuts her finger, do you think that she really wants everyone to notice she cut her finger?
Having a band-aid that matches our skin color is a big deal.
These are things white people don’t need to think about.
When are we going to start talking about race in our families? With our extended families?
With our friends? In Front of our children of color? In front of our white kids?
Why is race such a taboo subject?
because talking about race has to do with feeling comfortable. We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable and we for sure don’t want to look like a racist.
But here’s the thing: when you DON’T talk about race, you are actually being racist. When you assume everyone is the same, what you are really saying is that everyone is like you.
This is so dangerous.
A few days ago we asked our daughter who she would want to live with if we were to pass away. Her immediate answer was her best friend who happened to be white with white parents. Everything about her friend and her family were white.
I was uncomfortable with her answer so I decided to push a bit harder. I asked her if she would feel safe with them. Her answer was “yes”. I further pressed the issue, with a devastating outcome.
I came to realize (in my assessment based on the way I was raised) that she is really not aware of the fact that she is black. She is aware that there is a tone color difference, but she is not aware of what it means to be black.
So we continued to talk about race and this was not our first conversation nor is it our last.
How is it that I can be black, our daughter can be black, and yet she sees herself as equal to someone who is white?
As a mother, there is no way I will leave my daughter with an all-white family. There is also no way I will leave my daughter with an all-black family. If culture and race is not discussed on a daily basis.
Here are my thoughts:
- Everyone wants to be PC so they don’t bring up race
- No one wants to deal with racism because no one wants to be labeled a racist
- Talking about surface things is way easier than talking about race
- “Racism” is scary because once you start talking about race, you get into money, housing, schooling etc. And those things are “impolite” to talk about.
- Talking about racism also means you get to listen to the real struggles of the minority group. Who want to listen to the long list of struggles?
Racism didn’t actually start off being about color. It started about fear which lead to power.
Racism=prejudice + power.
Fear can lead to a person wanting power. Too much power keeps a minority group down.
When slavery began, it was not a matter of color, it was a matter of language actually. It was a matter of not knowing how to subdue a nation because you don’t understand them. The white man could not comprehend the black people when they spoke. They couldn’t understand the language and this is where it began. Language was a key factor in creating racism because it was the language that separated us in the beginning leading to other prejudices and stereotypes that have marked us for a lifetime. The white privilege of those days was because able to understand each other. The privilege of those days were never passed on. Because as slaves had babies, they learned the language of the white man but the stereotypes and expectations and prejudices had already been passed on that it stopped being about language and starting being about fear.
In 1804 Haiti revolted and one of the tactics used was language. They invented creole and made it a Pidgeon language in order to rise up and against.
Language is a powerful thing. This is why we teach our kids to be “respectful” but what happens when the idea of being “respectful” actually holds a people group down?
When we do not talk about race, we are doing a huge disservice to our children, to their generation and to the future.
I was rightfully upset at the fact that my black daughter wasn’t really aware that she was black. It is in no way her fault. I take full responsibility.
She is not surrounded by people of color to give her much reason to be an advocate for her own race.
I went to a very white state a couple of weeks ago and I noticed that my daughter and I, everywhere we went, in both directions, were the only people of color.
This is a problem because how do children learn about each other if there is only one race? One color?
Hollywood does a poor job at explaining race, holidays, and culture. Hollywood is not real. Don’t allow movies to teach your children about race, color, and culture.
White parents, talk to your kids about race.
Black parents, talk to your kids about race.
Asian parents, talk to your kids about race.
Latino parents, talk to your children about race.
Native parents, talk to your kids about race. It is as important as the air we breathe.
If we can’t talk about race and its beauty and their downfall, we have missed the idea of community, we have missed the definition of family.
LOVE is not enough.
2 shootings in a mere 48 hours. 2 shootings of 2 black men who did nothing to deserve to die.
The first one was given permission to sell CDs.
The second one was following police orders and was shot 4 times in front of his 4-year-old daughter and girlfriend.
What is the reaction of the general public (white people)? What did he do to xyz….really??
So when is it the right time to talk about race?
- After a friend is murdered in cold blood?
- When you are snug in the car with immediate family members who are “on the same page” as you?
- When you are a person of color?
- In the bedroom through whispers right before bedtime?
- When you are reading a book about race?
- When you are talking to a person of color?
- When you are watching a basketball game?
When is it a good time to speak the truth? To stand up for against those injustices?
When is it “ok” to remind your black child that they need to wear lotion because the ash on their skin is visible, unlike that of a white person?
When is it “safe” to talk about race?
When is it “smart” to talk about race?
What is the proper “venue” to stand up for the wrongs being done?
I was in an arts and crafts facebook group and the admin put up a rant about how sick and tired she is of people asking the same questions over and over. She proceeded to explain the different terminologies. She got to one bold heading and said “Junk jewelry is not handmade and it is usually made by little kids in 3rd world countries.”
In this arts and crafts venue, I stood up and said “we don’t say 3rd world and junk jewelry is not associated with poor people in the developing nation.”
Suffice it to say that did not go well and I received personal messages from people in the group telling me how inappropriate it was for me to bring this up.
Here’s the thing….when is it ok to talk about race?
And let me tell you a little secret.
If you are white, and you have adopted a child of color, your white privilege does not get passed on to them.
So how do we remedy this?
1st. It is not my job as a black woman to teach my readers about race, color and culture. It is however my job as a mom to teach my children.
- Be the parent. Start the conversation
Sometimes it is too hard to talk about race because those who “don’t get it” get offended because they feel they are being labeled a “racist”.
2. Talk about Culture. As parents, be open to talking about culture. Most people are ok with talking about different “cultures”. So do it. Bring it up. Celebrate this. This should always lead to race.
Sometimes because of “tradition”, the conversation of race is not had.
3. Break the tradition. As parents we are supposed to keep the good, leave the bad, and create a new “good” that can be passed down to the next generation.
Race is often talked about after something bad happens.
4. Don’t wait until something bad happens. Stop it in its track. Because that something “bad” is ignoring race and creating an even bigger elephant in the room.