“Nigger”


Hate Hurts

“Don’t be fooled by my looks. Mess with my kids and I’ll show you 50 shades of crazy.” As I scrolled through Pinterest recently, I came across this quote which made me laugh out loud. While I haven’t shown anyone 50 shades of crazy, I found it humorous because I could relate to the emotion. All moms, and parents in general, have the natural desire to protect their children from being hurt. Whether it’s keeping the playground bully from being mean to your kid or putting fear into the young man who comes to take your daughter out on her first date, we go through great lengths to protect our children.

As a mother, I too have tried to shield my young children from being hurt. My husband and I have worked hard to afford to live in a community where they would feel safe. We’ve been strategic in building relationships with diverse people we feel will positively influence their life. In particular, I’ve tried to guard them from the harsh realities life can bring. I wanted them to have the privilege of just being kids and for their innocence to be preserved as long as possible. Life was good. My plan was working. My kids were protected. We were living in one little happy bubble, until today, when my kids were called “NIGGER” for the first time directly to their face.

Racism had traveled from the pages of the books read during our history lessons to my children’s present reality. I knew at some point they would experience racism. It was never a question of if but more a question of when. However, I still found myself caught off guard because I hadn’t planned for it to be so early and blatant. My plan was to ease them into the understanding that someday, they will be treated unfairly because of the color of their skin. My plan was to explain the reality that they would at some point be on the receiving end of someone’s ignorance or hatred just because they were black.

This hurt me to my core, because it reopened wounds from my life when I experienced the sting of racism personally, both overt and subtle. I mentally relived the moments that tried to teach me that I was inferior because I was black and dark-skinned. As I moved from anger to tears of sadness, I realized I was mostly mourning the false hope that I wouldn’t have to have those discussions with my kids. I wanted to deny the reality that I will have to especially remind my black sons before they grab my car keys to keep their hands on the steering wheel in clear view if they are ever stopped by the police. I just wanted to read books to them about racism, not have them live it. So, now what?

First, I will stop crying and prepare to have the conversation I was hoping not to have for a few more years. Next, I will focus on being an agent of change by how I live and love people.

Change doesn’t happen by being angry, sad, in denial or avoiding the issue all together. We tend to see racism through our limited world view. For some of us, it’s easy to dismiss because it’s not our personal experience. For others, we walk in this world with an extra set of “rules” we are keenly aware of because of the color of our skin.

Change begins when we all admit that racism is real and happens often all over the world.
Change begins when we all understand that racism and hate hurt everyone, not just those on the receiving end.
Change begins when we’re brave enough to speak up when our friends or co-workers make inappropriate comments or jokes about people who look different. We can make a tremendous impact if we address this issue in circles where we have influence.
Change begins when we examine our own heart and are honest about our own propensity to be prejudice toward a group of people we don’t really know.
Change begins when we take a risk, step across the line and open ourselves to relationships with people who are outside of our comfort zone.

This situation and others like it that rob our children of their innocence can make any mother bear “show” someone their 50 shades of crazy. However, I look forward to battling the hatred my children experienced sooner than I desired with love and education. Will you join me?

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2 responses to ““Nigger”

  1. I have loved your posts this summer. Keep writing…..you have a gift. I am deeply saddened to read this post today, but ready to join with you. Thanks for being vulnerable and real on your blog. You are such an inspiration.

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