Charlie, my eldest, who keeps abreast of news items and is engaged (already at the tender age of 12) with equality issues and the lack of in society, wanted to know if I'd heard about the latest killing of an unarmed black man in the states... Yes, I have of course and although we have been avidly discussing ideas of what black lives matter means within our household, I think they/he was still shocked/dumbfounded. My youngest wanted to know why this man, Jacob Blake, was shot, what had happened (she is only 8). I didn't want to explain initially, because it is a deeply traumatic event. But you know what, Jacob Blake's 3 children were in the back of the car, as he walked towards it and had to witness their father being shot 7 times in the back and the eldest out of those 3 children was 8. The youngest 3. I don't hold with the theory necessarily that just because there are children in the world dealing with travesties and trauma, that mine have to experience that second hand too, but this is the world we live in and despite them being a paler shade of brown (than me or Jacob Blake's children) this too is the legacy that to varying degrees they will inherit. And they asked, so...I spoke.
Despite us having discussed the George Floyd murder and what black lives matter entails before, for some reason this incident has weighed heavier upon their innocent souls than any of the other discussions. My youngest wanted to know (and rightly so) why black people were targeted? Why they (we) are seen in this way... Again, despite us having discussed ideas of what racism is, about slavery and the legacy it left in it's wake, I don't think it had fully sunk in, on an emotional level for them.
White parents. Those who have taken the time to discuss not only the history but also how that history impacts upon the present, of slavery, of colonialism, of constructs of race and racism with your children and those who haven't. Have you any idea how it feels to discuss these things with your child when it's not simply an intellectual discussion or a point of historical learning? They could see I was upset, and actually a little scared. No, I won't hide that from them, despite the fact that they will not suffer racism or racial bias in the same way I or Jacob Blake or George Floyd or Breonna Taylor has, because yea, they could, my eldest definitely, 'pass for white'. This is part of their history and part of their mother's present and to varying degrees their own.
Black lives matter, as a slogan means... nothing actually. Nothing compared to the vast swell of evidence that it obviously does not. Jacob Blake was shot 7 times in the back, as he was walking away from police officers. Walking away because, er, perhaps history has taught him that these kinda confrontations, when police officers want your attention as a black man, often don't end well. Regardless of how you react. He hadn't broken the law, hadn't done anything, except try to break up a disagreement between 2 (white) women, a disagreement that was the reason the cops had been called in the first place. But instead of focusing on them, all they saw was a black male and felt, instinctually, his walking away from them warranted shooting him 7 times IN THE BACK. Maybe they didn't see the kids in the car. Maybe they thought (assumed) he was armed, dangerous. But we should by now know, after all that black lives matter has highlighted to us in the last few months, that all of those maybes just add up to one big fat definitely. That being that he was black and his life did not matter to them.
This is no longer a discussion or a debate. It is a picking sides point. If black lives ACTUALLY matter to you then you should be feeling an emotional response to this. You should feel deeply uncomfortable discussing the legacy of white privilege and entitlement with your white children and yea, actually, they should feel a discomfort too. It is not simply an intellectual debate and if you are not actually feeling it, then please don't say black lives matter. Please don't attempt to be seen as anti racist because that is the done thing. You don't deserve that kudos or safety or comfort.
My youngest was upset because, she presents as more brown than her sibling (Charlie is trans and has straight hair and very pale skin). She asked if that meant she would 'have more racism' than Charlie because of that and the curliness of her hair. The truth, unfortunately is yes. As I have suffered less overt racism than my sisters because I'm fairer skinned. Because the closer you present to that standard of white normality, the easier your ride. That is basic pigmentocratic politics. One of the many ways the slave masters have made us, non white people, continue their work by making us hate ourselves. I was careful with how I responded to my youngest about this because I want her to feel proud, not anxious about her heritage, her physicality. But yes, I also need her to understand she may well be judged upon that. Her response was incredible;
I love my skin and yours and Charlie's. It's not my fault if some people don't understand what love is...
Yea, am crying... Because that there is beauty, bravery and truth. I know it's not that simple but it's a good start.
Some people not only don't understand what love is but have lost touch with what it means to be human.