Our school district will recognize this Friday, February 17th, as a day of affirmation and understanding that black lives matter. Its overwhelming support includes that of the teachers’ union, administrators’ union and the school board.
Hopefully hundreds of teachers will voluntarily participate in “teach-ins” and engage in difficult yet necessary conversations around the inequality faced by people of color in this country and how it affects them and their school environment.
However, as is expected with anything that involves race, there has been a lot of pushback—pushback from the community and from teachers, with very heated opinions on both sides.
Instead of engaging with every Facebook post, every email, every pointed question, I’ve decided to tell my story of how I—a very white lady—came to not only believe in, but to fight for the #BLM movement.
A few months ago, my husband and I were discussing having another baby. For a variety of reasons, we would like to adopt.
When you adopt a child, you can’t just say, “I want any baby.” There are all sorts of things the agencies ask you about, one of which is race.
My first response was to blurt out, “Race doesn’t matter!” Especially since we are thinking about international adoption.
But before I got those words out, I stopped myself. I must have looked pained, because my husband asked me what was wrong.
And just like that, I said it out loud. “I don’t think I can raise a black son.”
Then, I started to cry.
In that small moment, a thousand conversations about what to do if he was stopped by the police went through my head. I imagined family meetings about “the right” clothes and tone of voice. I thought of teaching him not to run through white neighborhoods.
I thought of all of the things that black mothers, fathers, and caregivers tell their sons to “lessen” their chances of getting profiled and hurt.
The reality is that it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.
You see, it’s not because I can’t love him enough or provide for him enough.
It’s not because I can’t learn how to style his hair or that I’m worried about what people would think of our mixed family.
It is because I would be terrified every time he walked out of my house.
I cried for a baby that wasn’t real because I couldn’t cloak him in my whiteness and privilege forever.
I cried for the little baby boy who would eventually be a hoodie-wearing male teenager.
I cried because it is not fair.
I cried for all of the mothers who can’t choose. For those that can only hope that when the time comes, the world sees their sons for their character, and not their clothes or the color of their skin.
I cried because I am not strong enough to be the mother of a black son.
White friends, I know you grow uncomfortable when I talk about #BLM and how we can use our privilege to be allies.
I know that you don’t think that you are part of the problem, so you don’t see why you should “get involved”.
I ask you this —sit for a minute and think about your own children…
Think about all of the good with the bad. Think about that time you had to pick your kid up because they got drunk or because they did something stupid in school. Think about how much you hate your teen’s ratty old sweatshirt and the jeans with the holes in them that are two sizes too big.
Now imagine your child is black.
Did you change how you would parent?
This my friends, is why black lives matter.
For more information about the Black Lives Matter at School event in Rochester, N.Y. please visit blacklivesmatteratschool.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org