Written by: T.M. Brunson
I didn't realize until the last year or two why God didn't give me a little, brown baby boy. I ended up with six, beautiful, little brown girls; while my sister is raising four brown boys. God/Jehovah/Allah/A Higher Power knew what H/She was doing.
I cringe every time one of my nephews jumps from a chair. I close my eyes whenever my girls do flips in the air. My heart just can't take if anything should happen to them. So to raise a brown boy(s) in this climate in America is scary to me.
As a brown woman, I already feel nervous whenever the police get too close—wondering if I'm going to get pulled over, just because. And as a mother of little brown girls, I didn't think I would need to pass on this fear to my girls; but just recently, I realized that I needed to educate them, even more, on the injustices of this world to build their strength.
Yesterday, I was asked by my second oldest:
Why didn't you tell me about George Floyd?
I was ashamed that she had to hear it from someone/somewhere else. I should've had the talk with them long before this. I have wanted to shelter them from these horrific stories; but I cannot any longer.
I've been avoiding the news because every time I catch a glimpse of Apple News or something on FB, it's bad news...the brown jogger (Ahmaud Arbery) who was murdered months ago by two white men and the story just recently broke; the white woman who blatantly threatened to call the cops on a brown bystander (Christian Cooper) who asked her to put a leash on her dog; the police murdering another brown man (George Floyd) in broad daylight; and the looting/shooting tweet that America's president sent out that had all of Twitter buzzing. (I'm not going to even dignify that with a hyperlink.)
These are just a few examples, some more tragic than others, of how people of color are treated in America. It makes me sad. It makes me angry. It hurts me to have to have these sensitive conversations with my daughters about hate and police brutality and "Karens" and #metoo. These are the same little girls who didn't grow up thinking in black and white. They used to ask us why they didn't have peach skin like their other friends in school (back in California). And we would let them know that little brown girls come in all shades and that we are all beautiful.
The Untold Truth
Now our girls are in schools with more kids who look like them; but being raised in Burbank/North Hollywood in southern California sheltered them from a lot of the "urban" world. They knew some of the popular music, but they didn't know the singers (Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Chris Brown...) and that was partly our fault. We listened to a lot of old school. We did school them on Michael Jackson and Prince though!
Now, in the world of TikTok, they have grown up a lot in the past year—especially these past few months during the quarantine due to Corona2020. And now, it's time to teach them that there are people who still don't treat us, people of color, the same as others. It's time to tell them more the real truth about what is happening in the world.
I remember when I was a teenager, I was always thankful that I didn't grow up in the 50s and 60s because I wouldn't have been able to take not being allowed to go to places that were For Whites Only, or being denied access to a water fountain or a pool or a restroom because of the color of my skin.
But racism is still out there and it has quietly manifested in a different form. People blatantly asking me if all six kids were from the same father. People asking me if my hair was real. Walking around in Giant (a grocery store in PA) and store workers not willing to help me find an item (I asked four different workers) that I was looking for.
I was in a staff retreat one day at work and my boss asked me to pick up lunch (each of the directors took turns to pick up lunch). The day I was asked, I forgot my AMEX card, so one of my colleagues gave me theirs and said:
Here, take mine.
I looked down at the card and wondered what she wanted me to do with it. (I was the only person of color at the work retreat.) The three other people in the room looked at me and wondered why I looked so perplexed.
I can't take this card. They will ask me for my ID and the names won't match.
They each proceeded to tell me that they've never been asked for ID when using their credit card.
I always get asked for my ID.
Silence filled the room.
Lightbulbs appeared above their heads. It was a teachable moment in a room full of university staff members.
In another incident, offices were being moved around because of a new VP beginning. The former VP thought it was ok to put three of the five brown women (three African-American and two Latinas) in the building in the same office space—even though one of them wasn't even my subordinate.
The optics on that alone, weren't good.
She defended herself by saying:
I don't see color!
But other people do. And it feels uncomfortable. Like you're trying to trap all of the black women in one section and "hide" us.
We've been telling the girls about the world around them, little by little; but now it's time to have a serious talk. Let them know how they must act if we are ever pulled over. Let them know to keep their hands visible at all times if they are approached by law enforcement. How black lives matter. Asian lives matter. Latino lives matter. All lives matter; but that a lot of people do not agree with that.
And I don't want to convey this in a fearful way; but just in a way to let them know how to protect themselves. It's so easy for them to one day be hanging out with their friends and they get accused of something they didn't do. They need to know how to stay calm in these situations.
They portray these kinds of scenario's on episodes of The CW's All American and ABC's Mixed-ish which, I think, really helps to open up the conversation between parents and their kids. They are all teachable moments. We have to educate them on how to handle these moments.
I've seen so many posts and have received texts from Caucasian friends about what's going on in America today regarding racism. Some of them even apologized and even agreed that we all, as a people, are responsible for making change happen.
Well change, today, starts with me and my girls. I am going to bring awareness to their innocent minds about the injustices of America and the world.
Question of the Day
How will you broach the subject of racism and injustice with your kid(s)?
Share your thoughts on AMI's FB page @allmommyissues.com