What Privilege looks like

A group of children are playing at a public park. The group of children are a mix of ages and races. An older Caucasian man with no children pulls into the parking lot. He spends some time sitting in his car looking at the kids. Then he gets out his car, walks to the front tire, turns towards the children and puts his hand in his pants. Several of the parents see the man and glance towards each other. What is going on? The older man then pulls out his penis and fully exposed keeps staring at the children. One of the parents immediately calls the police. Another parent starts to approach the man. As the parent approaches the man pees on the ground. The person on the phone walks over and says the cops are on the way and, with the help of some of the other parents, prevents the perpetrator from leaving. At this point everyone feels upset, but victorious. This group of strangers worked together to protect the children and get the police out to put  this miscreant behind bars and prevent him from harming other kids.

The police officer shows up and relief quickly turns to disgust and anger. The person who called the police is an African American female and the accused is an older Caucasian man. First the officer listens to what happened. The story is corroborated by the woman who called the police and the other parents who saw this man expose himself. The police office explains to the woman that the law has changed. If this man could not find a bathroom then he is within his rights to relieve himself in the parking lot. The woman, beginning to become enraged, points to the public restroom that is nearby. The pervert replies by saying that the bathrooms were all occupied. An excuse that all of the parents refute. The police office then says that none of the children saw the man expose himself. At this point one of the parents goes to their 12-year-old daughter who explains what she saw to the officer. She saw EVERYTHING. The officer does nothing. He says the man was within his rights and he drives away. Once he leaves the man also gets into his car and leaves the park.

The officer and the pervert were the only two Caucasians on the scene.

This is what privilege looks like.

This is why we are angry.

Advertisements

A clarification

I don’t know why my post that said “Don’t kill each other” translated into I support racists, but it did for many of you so I am going to use very small words and type slowly so that the idea gets to you in short bursts rather than long, complicated sentences.

  1. Racism is a belief, created by thought. The thought sometimes, not always, translates into violence. How do you get rid of thoughts? Can you burn them down? Can you kill them? While killing the person who is currently expressing the thought might end the thought in that person it will not end the thought (belief) in other people. Excommunicating the person from society does not eliminate the belief. Eliminating groups of people because of their thoughts does not eliminate the belief. It sends the people with the beliefs into hiding. When they are in hiding they quietly share the belief with unsuspecting, innocent ears. Those ears grow up and the belief grows quietly.

Someone posted that it looks like we didn’t win in WWII…Of course we didn’t win. You cannot destroy ideology with guns. You cannot destroy ideology with discipline and hatred. The only that works is cognitive dissonance. Let’s stop fueling the fire and start putting out the fire. That is what I’m trying to say.

 

  1. Not long ago I wrote several posts about civil rights. Hey cops, stop killing black people! Like many people of color (not just my color, but other colors as well ,including rainbow) I live with racism and its consequences every day. I want justice. I want this to end. I understand that it will not end with a bang. I am not calling for compromise. I am calling for a radical approach to solving the problem. Something that has never been attempted, peace. Stop killing each other. Start helping each other. Call out racism when you see it, record it, talk about it. End it.

 

Will Smith said “Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”   So, for all of you seeing racism for the first time, all of you who are angry because you are getting a glimpse of what it looks like outside of your bubble, please understand that your glimpse is my reality. Take the example of our favorite President, President Obama, who is also calling for peace, but not siding with racists.  You cannot stamp out racism with violence. You can stamp it out by integrating your circle. Include people of all races and religions in your group and watch everyone learn to live together and stop being bullies. Yes, there are more of us, yes we have more power…can we please stop using that power to get rid of the group that we disagree with.

The conversation

 

I was making my morning coffee. I walked up to my husband and asked if he had read the news. He said yes and he was thinking about what to do. Neither of us had to inquire with the other about what part of the news we were referring to. We both had the same look. The look of parents who are scared. There has been too many reports of dead black men. We are both paying attention and we are both scared. We are both looking for solutions.

As a parent, if you knew that your child was walking into a life threatening situation what would you do? The answer is obvious…you would stop them, by force if necessary. You would talk to them, yelling if necessary “ No you are not going to jump in front of that train!”  What if the danger is walking outside of the house? What happens when you realize that the authority figures, the people with guns that everyone respects, will not hesitate to kill your kid? They will kill him even though he is a has a GPA of 3.98. They will kill him even though he has never committed any crimes. They will kill him even if he doesn’t resist in any way. And when you are mourning the death of your child they will start lying about what happened. They will say that he resisted arrest. They will say that he was endangering their lives, and unless there is solid proof to the contrary, everyone will believe them. Hopefully a cell phone recording is somewhere because if it isn’t then it will be my dead son, your dead son, versus the respected authority figure. My husband and I sat in the kitchen looking at each other and this is the picture that we are looking at.

 

My husband is a planner. He is thinking of all of the options. How do we keep our son alive? His solution: We will contribute to a police fund, get a sticker and put it on our kid’s car. We support the police. My son is not a criminal, in fact, he likes and supports the police. I love it! This way if the police pull him over they realize that he is on their side. We also come up with a plan to talk to him about what to do if the police pull him over. I find a great video and now we feel more equipped to deal with the problem. We realize that these steps may not be enough to save his life, but they are steps in the right direction. We are both relieved. We are sad. We are angry. This is not ok.

A disclaimer

I don’t know how my mother did it, but she did, All I can think is that she must be some kind of miracle worker because I grew up in  a color blind world. I had friends of every color, race, nationality. I had Asian, hispanic, Mexican, caucasian, and black friends. We had sleepovers, I was surrounded by friends and families of friends and not once did anyone mention the color of my skin. No one asked my about my hair. I never heard  racial slurs.  There was no racist jokes, not at home and not when I visited others. Nothing. How did she do it? As an adult looking back on my childhood I suspect that my mother had many private battles, with teachers, schools, and religious organizations, but she kept it all well hidden from us. I am sure that she thought she was protecting us from the evils of this world, but in hindsight I think I needed some perspective.

 

When  I was in my mid twenties and I met my future husband the fact that he was caucasian and the issues that might come up with that never crossed my mind. Not even once. The fact that we would be raising my black son with a white father never even occurred to me. We were a family, we loved each other end of story. My husband and I talked about race issues occasionally, but at the time I was firmly of the opinion that race issues were a thing of the past. The only people using the race card were con artists who understood the value of drama. Then one day my husband got a job that moved us from the utopia of Austin, Texas and into the suburbs of Chicago.

Talk about a cold shower.

 

For the first time in my life I experienced racism, and it was ugly. The most memorable moments in the experience include the day when my daughter declared she would not go to the store with me anymore because the people were always mean when she was with me, but nice to her whenever she went to the store with her dad. There was also the  Fourth of July parade where the parade participants would throw out candy to all of the kids near us, then look at me and pass over my kids. No candy near us. First I thought I must be imagining the slight, but my husband noticed it too. Eventually we decided that the only way to make sure that my kids would get the experience of everyone else was for me to step away from them enough so that the parade participants would not realize that I was part of the family. It worked. We were thouroglhly disgusted and that is when we decided that we would never raise our family anywhere near the suburbs of Chicago.

There were other similar experiences. I had people run from me in parking lots, refuse to serve me in restaurants. I even had a doctor refuse to treat me in a medical emergency. The entire experience was an awakening. Racial tensions are still alive and well in the good ol USA, you just have to know where to look.

We solved the problem by moving. No way were we  going to allow any of our kids to grow up in an environment where race shaped so many aspects of their life. No way!

So color me surprised when our next two moves, one to California, and one back to Texas did not solve the problem. Is Houston and Austin the only safe havens in the country? I don’t think so. I think the transition happened when I left shelter and moved into the real world. Though I will admit that we have a far better time in big Texas cities than we have in any other part of the country.

When we lived in Chicago I started writing about my experiences and how they shaped me. Then one day a good friend of mine said that I was racist. I was taken aback. She said that I spent some huge portion of my writing focusing on my experiences of oppression. Those incidences were few, but when it happened I spent tons of time writing and talking about it. I immediately stopped writing. I wondered if I was using the race card, if somehow I was contributing to the problem.  Maybe I am, but I don’t think that the problem will go away unless we keep talking about it. We cannot tolerate it, and the only way to make this violence, this unrelenting division, this societal cancer go into remission is to talk about it.

 

Let me be clear. The problem is getting better, but it isn’t resolved and pretending that it is does not help anyone. I don’t want to live in a society where I have to fear for the lives of my sons because the police may shoot them. I have 4 black sons and I refuse to spend the rest of my life hoping that they are ok and doing nothing to make sure that we, all of us, contribute to finding solutions to this seemingly unsurmountable disparity that exists between us.

 

What am I doing? Am I becoming a social commentator? I dislike most social commentators because I think of them as whiners who spend most of their time blaming the other side. Then the other side gets angry and starts to defend itself, which is a very human thing to do. Unfortunately this sort of quagmire does nothing to help find solutions for the problems. I want solutions! I need solutions for myself and for my kids and my grandkids and their kids. Since this is the goal I am opening up my blog to comments, not to wage war, but to start serious discussion on ways that we can all contribute to finding solutions.

 

Showers and Dinosaurs

You know that scene in Jurassic Park where the kids escape the hungry velociraptor by running into the kitchen and closing the door. Everyone is relieved because we all know that dinosaurs cannot open door and then..the dino opens the door.

 

That happened to me this morning. THe velociraptor’s name is Sol.

 

I really hate taking a shower with Sol. Sol really loves taking showers with me and he recognizes the sound of the shower turning on, so unless he is in the other room I suffer greatly. This morning when I successfully snuck into my room and closed the door I was sure that today was the day that I would get my solo shower. He was busy in the living room playing with his siblings, he didn’t notice me sneaking away. I start the shower and wait for the glass to steam up before I get in, that way even if he comes into the room he can’t see me. I jump into the shower, smiling. I LOVE IT! The shower is super hot just the way I like it and I am alone. I am positively gloating. Then the universe reminds me that gloating is a bad idea. I hear footsteps and freeze. If he can’t see me then I have nothing to worry about. He walks up to the shower stall and stops, he is staring into the shower looking for any sign of life. I hold my breath, keep calm and still, then it happens….the shower door starts to open. NOOOOOOOOOO!

 

I panic and grab the door. Still quiet, but the movement was noticeable. He pulls harder, I hold my ground. This is an intense standoff and I must win. I will have this shower, my moment and I will enjoy it. He abruptly stops pulling and stands there. I keep a death grip on the shower door just in case. I’m still quiet, silently crying because at this point shampoo is in my eyes, but I must remain strong.  Then he starts calling my name. I don’t answer. The dinosaur stalks  away. I take a deep breath to calm myself. Quickly rinse myself and step out of the shower before he has a chance to return.


Not the shower experience that I expected, but at least I’m clean and we both survived.

On writing

I have a very strong desire to write. I have a plan to become a blogging goddess with a book deal that turns into a multimillion dollar movie deal. I am missing a few things:

1. Time. It is 11:30pm. I have been awake since 7am. One baby is awake and nursing as I write this. The todler, who did not nap today, is asleep in bed next to me. I have 2 kids asleep in the next room and my oldest is downstairs on his computer. All of theses individuals need some time from me.  I also like to talk to my husband occasionally. Throw in household chores, 2 dogs, and 2 cats and you can quickly see how I might run out of time for writing.  So yeah…time is a bit of an issue.

2. Plot. I think I have the cutest and smartest group of children that this world has ever seen. My blog is an attempt to prepare the world for the day that they decide to take over, because when they decide to take over there’s nothing stopping the. Unfortunately every mommy blogger in the bolgesphere has the same or the opposite position and they spend tons of time, which they have and I lack, writing about every stage of development and other tidbits from their entertaining lives. I want a different angle…I just haven’t figured out how to write from that angle yet.

3. I’m typing on my phone which is slow and tedious. I’m pretty tired. I forgot 3… I’ll leave the number here in case I remember it later. Here’s a cute baby pic instead…think of it as a placeholder.

image

Toddler Tuesday

I have big plans for toddler Tuesdays. I have no time to implement those grand plans so I will console myself by posting pictures of my time thieves. Today we visited the San Antonio Children’s museum, my toddler thought the grocery store was the beat part. He was very careful to select only the best fruits and veggies for his cart, absent from the cart was canned goods(yay for us!), bread, and pasta. They were choices but he declined to spend his imaginary money on them.

image

And at the checkout counter.

image