This post was an email response to my last post- I Don’t Look Like This Place– by an acquaintance who asked to remain anonymous.
Dear This Old Mom,
It is a tough reality check when your child begins to learn that their brown skin may not be as good as the kid with the yellow hair. The memories came flooding back as you were describing how your own child was not comfortable in her own skin. What you described became my reality when my son was in daycare.
It never goes away, unfortunately, and it is just so sad. Why? Because there are some people who want to constantly remind you that because of your brown skin, you need to always know your place. These are the simple minded individuals who yell the loudest, though not the majority. Nevertheless, when you hear it enough, it starts affecting your confidence.
As parents, we have to instill a sense of confidence and pride in our children. We need to convince them of their own self importance, strength and that they are just as good, if not better than others. I have often told my son that sometimes he has to be better than the kid with the yellow hair just to be accepted and noticed at all. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t mess up or make a mistake as you will be vilified, called a thug, held to a higher standard and stereotyped as typical behavior for people of color.
We experienced this situation first hand when our child was attending college in a small college town where there was not a lot of people of color. He was accused of an unthinkable act by law enforcement which we later learned was not true as there was a videotape and plenty of witnesses that proved his innocence. Nevertheless, he was charged for this unspeakable act. Charges were dropped within 24 hours, as the accusers chose not to testify against him.
It took us over two years to resolve this issue but the scars still exist! As a family, we chose to fight back with every fiber of our existence to clear our child’s name and reputation– which was smeared by the very people who were entrusted to protect him. This sort of unfortunate event just makes me so angry . I would have gone over the deep. However, the kindness and support of others restored my faith in mankind.
When one’s child recognizes that they are different, their hair is different, their walk may be different and where they live may be different, may initially be very tough because society constantly reminds them that they are different– which should be a good thing, but often times, it is not.
Read the article about Leslie Jones, of Ghostbusters and SNL, who left Twitter solely due to the hateful, racist and cruel things people were Tweeting directly to her. Reading what people felt compelled to hurl at this woman made me physically sick.
Then, there’s the interview that DL Hugely had with Megyn Kelly from Fox News. As a guest on her show, DL felt attacked and disrespected while being interviewed to promote his book. It went south very quickly when Megyn’s of line of questioning clearly infuriated him. I was so happy when he stood up for himself and called her out. These are two instances of racism- one active and overt, the other more shaded and nuanced, but clearly both are attempts to make creative people of color feel less than equal to their white counterparts.
This world will continue to be crippled until people start living in the present and caring about each others differences. Racism, both overt and oblique, is tearing this country apart. Of course the RNC further fanned the flames at their convention last week in terms of diversity and integrity. It would have been nice to have seen something more positive and welcoming of all American citizens and not so polarizing! Was there nothing good Donald Trump had to say about this country? Since there was nothing, I am with Hillary!
Guess that is more than you wanted. Sometimes people of color just get so sick and tired of talking about how it feels to be a person of color and we just want to be accepted and respected.
Anonymously sent by a hopeful American Citizen!
PS: Let’s pray for a better world. I am certainly hoping Grace knows how much she is loved and how lucky she is to have you have her mother. Her hair does not define her in the least.
A brilliant article by the fierce writer, Michael Harriot, from a brilliant website, The Root:
And if you need more positive inspiration that could incite the change we so desperately need, feel free to watch Obama’s 2015 speech at Selma.
And don’t think about how, sadly, so little has really changed since then…