As a mom of two young African American boys, I realize that there are conversations my husband and I will have to have with our sons that other parents will not all because of our ethnic background. My heart sunk just the other day while placing my son’s hoodie on his head, realizing that one day it will no longer be in his best interests because it falls into racial profiling. It grieves my heart to know that one day the same faces that smile and compliment our sons on being so cute and handsome, will be the same faces that see them as a threat because the color of their skin.
I also didn’t think that at the age of four I would be having a conversation with my daughter on why her skin tone was different than her peers or why her hair was not straight and blonde like her classmates and Elsa. I knew that one day the conversation would come, and whenever it did I had to be ready. Explaining to your child why they look different from their peers is not the challenge. Having to explain to your child racism and colorism when they will be the potential target is.
In our family, history is very important. We don’t look to the teachers, the church, or society to educate our children because we believe we should be their first teachers. So when it comes to Martin Luther King Jr. and other famous African Americans we are very intentional about making sure our children know where they come from and their rich history.
It is also important for us to expose our children not only to our culture but to others. As parents we don’t live segregated lives nor will our children. Before moving to SC I was praying that God would allow us to find a church that looked like our personal community, which is multi-racial. I pride myself in having a diverse community of friends and interests to living in Washington state for 7 years! I am beyond grateful that we found that church, International Praise Church of God in Elgin, SC. I love that we worship and fellowship with Christians from all over the world. While we acknowledge and honor our differences respectively, we also know that what matters most is that we are sisters and brothers in Christ.
Just a year ago I went to see Selma, a biographical movie about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the historic marches in Selma, Alabama. I remember anticipating and asking myself what would the movie be like? Over the course of those 2 hours I felt every emotion possible ranging from rage, disappointment, sadness, joy, and fear. I shed tears as I watched mothers have to bury innocent children lives taken by the 16th St. Baptist Church Bombing. It was by far the best movie of the year even though it didn’t get nominated for an Oscar (but the lack of diversity at the Oscars is best suited for another blog post).
On the way back home my husband and I conversed about the movie. I asked my husband, “What do you think Dr. King and those apart of the Civil Rights Movement would say today?” Would they be disappointed? Would they be proud? We are all moved by the poetic speech, ” I Have a Dream,” but are we keeping that dream alive in our home, are we taking it out into our workplace and community?
I believe Dr. King would say that yes we have made great milestones in history and upon society, however as a society we still have a way to tread. Why? Because there is just as much senseless crime of ethnic groups against one another, senseless murders of blacks and other people of color being killed by police, terrorists attacks that don’t fall short of the church burning such as the Charleston Nine, San Bernadino, Chibok School Girls Kidnapping, United for Paris, and the list goes on.
There is so much hatred that exists in the hearts and minds of people. So while we may have made accomplishments, I am also convicted when I ask myself, “Do we carry the dream on?” I am proud that I no longer have to spend MLK day in downtown Columbia marching for the Confederate flag to come down, but saddened that it took the lives of nine to be loss before recognizing the hate it infiltrated.
My question to you … are you keeping the dream alive, ensuring that we teach our children beyond one day or month of the year? More importantly teaching them the importance of loving a person beyond their demographics or physical makeup?