My husband is an incredible father.
My husband is a great baker.
My husband loves to have dance parties with our 3 year old.
My husband is kind.
My husband is loving.
My husband is THE hardest worker.
My husband likes DIY projects and HGTV.
My husband is a professional.
My husband is respectful.
My husband is goofy.
My husband is smart.
My husband is creative.
My husband is thoughtful.
My husband is patient.
My husband is generous.
My husband is a Black American.
We’ve all read tons of posts and articles about the murder of George Floyd and the protests and riots that have followed all over the country. To be honest, you’re probably sick of hearing about it. You know what, Black Americans are, too. Sick of seeing these headlines. Sick of watching their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, cousins, coworkers, and community suffer and die.
I’ve always known I am privileged as a White American. I’ve also always thought that I was fully aware of it, but I never truly understood until I started witnessing the discrepancies in the way I am treated in public versus how my husband is. I remember one instance early in our relationship where we were out and both wearing hoodies. It started to rain and I immediately put my hood up. He grumbled a little about the rain and I suggested he put his up as well. He politely said no and when I said it again, he just looked at me and said:
Oh. Right. If he did, he might “match a description” and put himself in danger. I had never once thought about that as a repercussion for black men.
Another day, we were in the car and stopped at a traffic light. It was a beautiful day and we had the windows rolled down. The car next to us pulled up, took one look at him and yelled the N-word. I was shocked. My immediate reaction was to yell back, to flick them off, to DO SOMETHING. My husband calmly rolled the window up and kept looking straight ahead as if he didn’t hear them. I yelled, “You really aren’t going to say anything?! I will!” He stopped me. “We don’t know who they are or what they are capable of. It’s not worth it. Leave it alone.”
Him, along with millions of other Black Americans, have spent their lives “leaving it alone” out of fear for their lives.
And they are sick of it. Can you blame them? White Americans “leave it alone,” too, but because we can. Because we have the privilege of not worrying. And in situations where someone spews hatred at me or my husband, I am privileged to even be allowed to have a reaction. (Also, pray for the people who dare to say anything about my children.)
I read a post the other day about a man saying he only goes for walks with his children because when they are with them, he is just a loving father. If he goes for a walk by himself, he’s a threat. My husband identified with this and expressed similar feelings living in a predominantly white neighborhood. I started thinking about this and my thoughts turned to our 3-month-old son. For now, he is just an innocent baby. He’s sweet and cuddly and everyone thinks he’s just the cutest (because he is). But when does that switch flip? When does he go from a cute kid with beautiful dark brown eyes and curly hair to a kid with dark skin who is up to no good? How long do we have to figure out how we are going to explain this to him? How long until I have to worry about him surviving each and every day? How long do I have with him?
My husband’s story is not unique. My son’s story will not be unique. We are beyond lucky that so far, every single encounter has resulted in him coming home alive. These issues are layered and there are decades of hurt and oppression that we are going against here, but we need change. Teach your children to see and celebrate color. Use your voice to speak out. Please don’t be complacent – lives depend on it.
*I’m not going to bombard you with resources here because there are so many and they are everywhere right now. Take some responsibility and do the work. Learn for yourself and then find an age-appropriate resource for your children and start the discussion. I’m begging you.