This piece is part of a series here at MKE Moms Blog entitled C.A.R.E. We want to initiate conversations about racial equality (CARE) and to call people into the discussion around social justice in our Milwaukee community and beyond. By having these conversations, even if they are uncomfortable at times, we hope to challenge ourselves and our readers. We will support this dialogue with new perspectives, resources and ways to get involved. We are in this together and ultimately, we want to provide connections: Mom to Mom. And we believe in the power of stories to create these connections.
I am biracial. My father is Black and my mother White.
Hate of any kind wasn’t tolerated in our home. My parents taught my sister and I that skin color was not a prerequisite for being kind. Everyone deserved to be treated with respect and dignity and degrading someone was unacceptable.
Treat everyone as you want to be treated — that was the rule. But, I guess others weren’t raised with the same rule.
I was a young girl when a group of black friends told me that I “wasn’t Black enough.” In my 20s, a woman told me interracial couples were sinners and my parents were going to hell because different races shouldn’t procreate. Mixed children were the ugliest children she had ever seen.
I am married to a White man and we have two beautiful children, biracial children. Both who could pass as White.
Over the last few months, I have realized how sensitive I’ve become to racial tensions. I feel like almost every day, the headlines report some sort of prejudice or discrimination here in America or abroad. Just this past week, I’ve found myself completely dumbfounded by the amount hateful and privileged articles, comments, and images shared on social media. In fact, I have purposefully hit the unfriend/unfollow button more times than I care to admit, and not for complete strangers but, for friends whose posts encourage arguing, demeaning, or bullying comments.
A few nights ago, I cried harder than I have in a very long time. I cried for all of the people who have ever been told they were less than and degraded, for the moms who have lost children to violence, and for the fathers who will never come home. I cried because the climate of our country needs to change, but change seems impossible.
I cried because I was thankful and then I cried because I was ashamed that I was thankful.
You see, my boys are able to pass for white. My oldest with his fair skin and stick-straight hair. My youngest with his light hair and blue eyes. No one will probably look at them and think they are Black. I’m thankful that they will probably never experience being prejudged because of the color of their skin. But then I am ashamed that I even think that way. My heart is broken that I am thankful my children may never experience discrimination because of their skin color and that we live in a society where privilege is associated with color.
Until now, I have been quiet, but I refuse to accept that I don’t have a part to play.
No matter how my children are viewed, they will grow up knowing that society sadly bases privilege or success on the premise of skin color, whether intentional or not. I no longer chose to live in fear of losing friends or of what others may think of me. I refuse to allow the shame of my children’s perceived privilege to hold me back from fighting for equality.
So where do I go from here? What can I contribute to this ongoing conversation about race equality?
For me, I start at the beginning, choosing to ignore my fears of rejection and accepting the fact that I may not always say the right words but I can open myself up to share and listen. I may not know how to bring change, but I can start with teaching my children about love and acceptance.