This week’s Thursday things, may push some buttons. I may make a few of you feel uncomfortable, but if I choose not to share some of these loves, I would be quieting a part of my heart and life and reality that is front and center, and as I’ve reverberated in past posts–this blog is the raw and honest truth. So, I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry (although the people-pleasing side of myself wants to be!!).
One thing that comes bound into the job description of being “mom” is educating and protecting my children, and this is a responsibility that I have come to recognize as important, valuable, and absolutely critical. However, in having a son who is African American, I have come to realize that my job in protecting him looks vastly different than it will as I learn to protect our sweet Esmae. It feels like with Martell, I can do all the “momming” just right–I can give him all the talks about submission to authority and acting above reproach and being respectful of not making white women in particular feel uncomfortable and behaving to the best of his ability at school–and yet still fear for his life when he turns into a predictably tall, strong black man.
So here are the things I never thought I would need to recognize as loves because I’ve always viewed them more as rights, but here they are anyways–
- I love that when I walk into a store I am trusted by both the staff as well as the customers around me.
- I love that I can drive my car with an expired license plate sticker for over a month without getting pulled over, and more, without having my car searched for drugs.
- I love that I can sit in a waiting room or lobby and not be stared at or moved away from.
- I love that I can wear a hooded sweatshirt and baggy sweatpants without people assuming I’m a thug or involved in a gang of some kind.
- I love that in school I was fairly disciplined for my lack of respect to my teachers.
- I love that in school I was never asked to share my opinion during Black History Month on behalf of the entire black race.
- I love that in college it was assumed that since I was attending at the University of Illinois that I had earned my admittance. I love that it was never assumed of me that I got in only because I’m an athlete or simply because of the color of my skin.
- I love that people don’t just assume that they can touch my hair because they’re curious as to how it feels.
- I love that every mistake I make is just that–a mistake. It is not some proof to people that I am a part of some stereotype I just unintentionally upheld.
- I love that in most situations I do not feel like a minority.
- I love that I can walk with my hands in my pockets or place my bag through security without people assuming that I have a weapon of some kind.
- I love that I don’t have to worry about my husband leaving the house and not coming back.
- Finally, I love that my history does not involve being owned, uneducated, abused, segregated, unwelcome, taken advantage of, imprisoned, misunderstood, dehumanized, without a voice, unrepresented, lynched, unprotected by the law, viewed as enemy, and the list could go on and on.
These loves are called white privileges. I had been blinded to them my whole life until Martell came along. I’m not pretending to “get it”, but now it’s my job to seek to understand, to seek justice, and to seek to help my white brothers and sisters see. You see, “what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 Each and every one of us belongs to a good and steadfast God–one who does not make mistakes–not with our skin color or our gender or our health or our gifts or our voice. If we saw one another through the eyes of our Creator–the One who loves us all deeply and vastly–we would see beyond the stereotypes and the hatred and the fear. We would begin to validate one another’s pain and we would never give up on trying to understand and protect and love. We’re missing it–the love part. I love those thirteen things up there, but not more than I love justice for all people, my sweet, tender-hearted son included. Friends, black lives matter.