So. It’s time to have another talk with EJ. The hard kind of talk.
We’ve talked about hard stuff before. Like when she asks where homeless people live.
And how no one should touch your private areas. She knows the proper names for her genitalia- and even Brewers.
We’ve talked about not lying.
About getting a grown up if you see another child doing something dangerous.
About how to call for help if “you can’t wake me up”. How to call for help on her Gizmo watch if she doesn’t know where she is- or if she’s somewhere (school, at a friends house) and needs me to come get her for any reason.
Don’t hide from firemen.
Don’t touch dogs that have tense body language- even if their owners say it’s okay.
Your body your rules- you don’t have to give anyone a hug you don’t want to. You can say no.
But now it’s time for a new sort of talk. I know she’s ready. And I am too. She’s incredibly smart. Incredible intuitive and empathetic.
It’s time to start planting some seeds within her. Time to teach her to be more than a “well intentioned white person”.
It’s time to talk about privilege, racism and white supremacy.
I’ve been jotting down some thoughts. About what I want to teach her. How can I say it in a way a four year old, almost five, can understand? How can I teach her to be aware of her privilege? To stay with someone who is experiencing racism? To speak up when she hears racial slurs. How can I teach her to NOT be colorblind?
White families- what are you telling your children?
Families of color- what do you want my child to know?
I think I’m gonna start out by talking about our friends that are black. I’ve never just pointed out their skin tone- and honestly she’s never asked. She’s never called someone black. She’s never even mentioned it.
So I’m gonna start out by saying “You know so and so- have you noticed they’re darker than you are?”
You have lighter skin then they do. Now- some people may say that “everyone is the same on the inside”- and not to worry about our skin color. But I can tell you’re old enough to learn the truth.
The truth is- people treat other people differently based on skin color. They may be mean. They may call them names. They may hurt their body.
This is never okay.
I want you to know- that we don’t experience life the same way as other people- especially people who have darker skin.
Families who have darker skin often experience this- it’s called racism. They may be more closely followed while shopping. Asked more questions. People may think things about then just because of their skin color.
It’s important for you to see skin color- because our friends who are black face challenges and (trying to figure out how to explain microagressions to a 4 year old) that we don’t because we are white. They may be fearful of being stopped by the police. Or be afraid to walk alone. They may get picked on at school for their hair. They may be called names. These jokes are not funny. They’re insulting to these families.
How would you feel if someone picked on you because you have two mommies?
Think about how it feels when people find out you have 2 moms. Or they assume you have a daddy. Or they may ask which mom is your real mom. These questions / “jokes” are annoying and hurtful.
But people can’t look at you and tell you have two mommies. But everyone can tell when a person is black.
It’s important for you to know what this is. Because if you see this happening- I need you to speak up. To stay with your friend. Let them know they’re not alone. Tell a teacher. Tell me.
If one day you are playing outside, playground or at school or at the park with friends who are black and a police officer shows up- for any reason- do not run. Do not leave your friend. Stay with them. Remain calm. Ask the officer if you may use your phone watch to call me. I will come.
Do as the officer says but do not leave your friend. This is very important.
Now, some people may tell you that racism doesn’t exist anymore. That is not true. We see examples of racism every day.
Maybe you’ve seen it too. Maybe a teacher is more strict with a black classmate. Maybe other kids don’t want to play with a black friend.
Can you think of a time you’ve seen someone treated differently because of the way they looked?
Here’s the thing EJ. It’s not enough for us to say “We won’t be say mean things to black people…”. It’s not enough for us to say we aren’t racist.
We have to be anti-racist. That means we don’t tolerate racism from our friends, family, or people in our community. We must call it out.
Our family is anti lying. Anti stealing. Anti hitting. And anti racist.
Racism could happen anywhere. Sometimes it’s big- sometimes it’s small. It may mean someone is treated differently at school. At the doctors office. While shopping. On the playground.
I’m gonna let you in on a secret kiddo. I’m still learning how to do this too. Sometimes I hear things I don’t like. I hear people make fun or tease black people. I’m learning that the way I was taught growing up isn’t right. And I want you to learn this too.
Because yes, we are all people. But we all have different experiences- kinda like different stories. Your story is different than most of your friends because you have two moms. You’re gonna face challenges with that. But our friends, like “x,y,z”- they are people too. And they have a different story than us. An important story. They’re going to face challenges that are different than us because of their skin color…and just like any of your friends (especially McKenleigh) wouldn’t let that happen, or wouldn’t leave you alone to face mean people alone- I need you to do the same, okay? Because it’s the right thing to do honey. It’s something our family values. Okay baby? I know this is a lot. We will keep talking about it.