I have begun writing this post numerous times and I am at a loss. The thought that keeps crossing my mind is that the world is going mad. However, the reality is the world has long been mad. The virus and quarantine forced a quiet on the world that made it impossible for people to continue to submerge themselves in their daily lives to the point that they could ignore the madness that surrounds us.
As we looked to social media, news, podcasts and such to alleviate the boredom associated with quarantine. An awareness occurred. I know many people that were not aware of the racism and injustices that occur constantly in our world. People can no longer say that these issues do not exist. People can no longer say this doesn’t happen. Racism is real. Injustice is real. Fear is real.
My children want me to explain why this happening, so I did. After telling them the events that have occurred and watching news and videos they again asked me to explain why this is happening and not because they did not understand what we told them. They asked me to explain why one person would hurt another because of their skin color. I have no answer for them except some people are broken and they make the world broken.
They want to know how we fix things. How we make their friends safe. How they stay safe. We have begun conversations on using our voice and our vote. That is just a beginning. They are looking to me for answers that I cannot give. A fix that I do not have.
Today, my oldest and I went to a peaceful protest. We read signs, listened to speeches, observed and talked. We marched, chanted and regrouped. Both of us were emotional. At one point she was overwhelmed with emotion and saw I was too. We discussed how this should be emotional. We should feel things during this. Then she asked me if the world would always be this way. Would there always be a virus? Would there always be scary times?
My answer. I don’t know what the future holds for you and your brothers. I don’t know what crisis and fights will remain as you grow up. What I do know is that the world needs changing. People and society need to change. All I can do is learn with you, walk with you and do my best to help change the world for the better for you and with you.
What I do know is that if I do nothing I am as guilty as my parents for allowing and supporting racism. My parents taught racism with the slurs used to describe the neighbors based on their ethnicity. Stories of encounters with black co-workers and neighbors were never favorable. The N word was dropped by my grandmother and grandfather. No one corrected the people in my life. No one stood up to them. When I felt uncomfortable with the conversations and questioned them I was told I was naive and didn’t understand because I had no life experience.
I wasn’t naive. I was a person who listened to their heart and soul and knew what was being said around me wasn’t right. It felt uncomfortable to hear people spoken of in that vile manner, especially when we were never hurt by anyone of any color.
I remember being 10 and making myself peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. As I went to sit outside on the steps to eat I looked to the end of my driveway and saw two homeless people going thru my trash cans for food. I made more sandwiches and took them to them. I remember them tearing up when I brought them food and told them they deserved to not have to go through trash cans for food. They were kind to me and went about their way. I went inside. When my parents learned what I did I was punished for months. As an adult I know what happened was gaslighting, but I never understood why I was punished. Shouldn’t all people have food? Shouldn’t all people have a place to live?
I’m one of the lucky ones. I did not succumb to generations of racism and ignorance. Easily, so easily I could be an even bigger part of the problem. However, I did succumb to fear. Fear of speaking out. Fear of using my voice for change.
We are all affected by racism is some way. There is no equality while there is social injustice. End racism. End homelessness. End child hunger. The list continues. Make changes for the better. We cannot have peace until we erase fear. Doing nothing is being complicit.
Sassy Viking Mama