It’s really sickening to turn on the TV or go online and see murder splashed across the headlines. It’s happening all the time. One day it’s a black man shot and killed by cops and another it’s a black man killing cops. You know what the common denominator is? People are being senselessly killed; taken from their families. I struggle with how to protect my kids in a violent world, but what I struggle with more is what to tell my biracial son about how black lives matter both applies to him and yet doesn’t all at the same time.
My husband is biracial himself. He’s half white and half black. He’s very familiar with the feeling of not quite fitting in. He’s not considered white, but also not considered black enough, but only by people who don’t know him. People that know him, just call him Will.
It’s even harder to categorize my children by their race as they are very light skinned, but aren’t quite white either. I thought my children would be identified as white by those that don’t know them until I ran a daycare and one of the children told me, “There’s a Jayden in my class. But he’s white.” After that, I no longer have any clue how people will view my children. I actually welcome it when people ask me about my children’s race.
They are both black and white regardless of their skin color, or is that all the world cares about? My oldest daughter is the only one of my kids who has even mentioned the race question, but she just assumed our whole family is white. She only sees our sameness, where other people might see our differences.
I read a blog post from another mother of a biracial child. She goes into sorrowful detail about how she’s afraid her son will grow up to be shot for being a black man (no other reason than that). I get the very real concern. I do, but we must be careful not to teach our children that all cops are to be feared.
Fear is the slippery slope that people fall off and they often land in hatred. How is identifying a person’s goodness by the color of their uniform any different than identifying someone’s goodness by the color of their skin?
Then there is the added rub for my son in the Black Lives Matter movement. His daddy is a law enforcement officer. Jayden understands him to be a cop because probation officer is a little harder of a concept for him to understand at six years old.
What Jayden knows is that daddy has a badge, carries a gun, and puts bad guys in jail. Daddy is a cop and daddy is also black (both black and white technically). So is daddy good or bad because he’s black or good or bad because he’s a cop?
Whenever we take the actions of some and have them stand for an entire population, stereotypes are born. When we use those stereotypes to propagate the murder of any human being it’s wrong whether it’s a cop or a person of color or any category of people at all. Murder is the epidemic we should be focused on.
My son wants to be a cop someday (at least right now, he is only six). If he does I will tell him to be careful. I want him to protect himself, as well as others. I hope he never has to fire a gun. Taking a life isn’t something you can easily live with. I don’t want people to see his uniform and think he’s one of the bad guys. I don’t want people to look at his skin and assume he’s white and that must mean he’s racist. I will raise him to know that he is both black and white, always one foot in each world.
We should all be in the same world; a world that should be disgusted by the taking of ANY human life. I understand the call to raise awareness that black lives matter, but some people have misinterpreted the mantra to be synonymous with cop lives don’t matter or ONLY black lives matter.
It scares me to send my boy into the world that will struggle to judge him instantly by the clothing he wears or the color of his skin. But I will teach him that no category of people is inherently good or bad. Each person is to be judged by their own character and actions.
I want him to be a person who follows the law. I want him to be a man of strong moral character. I want him to understand that all human life is precious regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, occupation, or any other category that can be used to box in people that will never be neatly categorized.
Years of fear and hatred don’t just disappear. I know I can’t change the world my children are living in, but I sure can shape the people they grow up to be. I want my kids to know that we are profoundly more similar than different and that you can never fight hate with hate. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire, expecting it to act like water.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
He also said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
I will teach my beautiful biracial boy that every lost life is an affront to all of us. I’ll teach my son that Black Lives Matter is a call to action; a call to recognize an epidemic of black men being killed by police officers. I will tell him that there are people in the world who still see skin color as the easiest way to identify and place a value on people’s lives.
I’m sure he’ll figure out on his own one day that it’s going to be problematic for people to classify him in this simplistic way. His race will probably be questioned. If he grows up to be a police officer, his intentions and integrity will probably be questioned as well. But honestly, the only thing I can teach him that will make any real difference is that the categories we fall or don’t fall into will never supersede the most important one of all – human being.
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.