My sweet little bear is quickly becoming a sweet middle bear on his way to being a sweet big bear.
Through the precious months and years while he was learning to speak, he referred to himself as, “Momma, I you feet bar” = “Mommy, I am your sweet bear.”
So darling and delicious, just like all of our sweet babes.
And, like all of our sweet babies, he is growing up in this world, in this country, in this state, at this time in history.
All times in history have had their challenges, I am aware of that. But, I am not handing over the walking talking embodiment of my heart and soul to those times. I fought to bring this person into this world at this time.
Now is the time I dig deeper into the explanations of how and why others, and potentially he, will be treated very differently from others. I have to explain about privilege and discrimination, hate and fear.
My son is mixed race.
I am not. I am white, white, white, Northern European, pale fleshy white lady of whiteness.
When I was growing up, I prayed that I would wake up as a Native American with long glossy straight black hair, proud posture, magnificent history. I prayed that I would wake up so Jewish that I could speak fluent Hebrew and dream about wearing a tight scarf on my head. I prayed that I would wake up Italian, African American, Hungarian, Russian, really anything with deep rich cultural history, languages and traditions.
When I was growing up, my grandparents were very racist, classist and bigoted.
My father (their son-in-law), made it a high priority that we children all understood the evils of racism, classism, and discrimination of any kind.
I grew up believing that my generation was an enlightened one – one that believed, truly believed and lived the belief, that all HUMANS are created equal and they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Yet, during my adult professional life, I have been professionally chastised for interviewing “those sorts of people,” for positions considered prominent and customer service oriented. It took me hours to figure out that I was being told not to interview anyone who wasn’t white-skinned. It took my perplexed confiding in a very patient dark-skinned woman, whom I admired, and her willingness to endure and enlighten my naïve altruistic soul. Once she said the words, “You’re being told not to interview black people. That is how Gayle operates. She is a good businesswoman and knows that if you put a black person in those positions, we will lose business. That’s the reality of this area and these customers. But, she isn’t allowed to say that you can’t hire black people, so she refers to us as ‘those people,’ which stops the lawsuits because that could mean anything”
This incident was in our country, not that long ago.
The recent publicized incidents in the national news, are horrid grim reminders that outside of my little bubble existence, racism and discrimination, are rampant.
Having lived in, and traveled to, a few places around the world, I have been witness to modern-day slavery as well as cultural/economic/racial/religious discrimination. All of it is disgusting and horrific. In my world of Montessori school, karate lessons, swimming at the lake, and square foot gardening with my beautiful, mixed-race, light brown-haired, white-skinned boy, it is so easy to pretend that none of this exists in my world.
The real horror is in recognizing that all of these things do exist in my world, and as an unengaged bystander, I am a huge part of the problem.
And so begins the discussions with Mr8, so that he is aware and engaged. His buddies come in all colors, all religions, all genders…
We have to turn that learned
deep rooted fearful awful human evil lure to be
Compassion, Respect, Understanding, Empathy, Love.
Love, Ms. Herisme xo