I was sitting with another mother in the park the other day watching our kids play and I told her that I’ve been writing a lot lately about racism and parenting on this blog. She said to me, “You’ve never experienced anything racist with Tin have you?” And I was stunned. This is an educated woman who wants her children to be raised in diversity, but what is amazing is that she thought a brown skinned boy in New Orleans wouldn’t experience racism. No, for real? Yes, for real. I’m quite sure there is not a brown skinned boy in this city who has not experienced racism and so has his parent, no matter what their skin color.
She asked for an example, and of course, I had one. My neighbor asked if he could use Tin for his Mardi Gras costume, he would be an organ grinder and Tin would be his monkey. Yes, there it is. Horrified doesn’t begin to describe what I experienced in that moment. Mortified, horrified, enraged, sad, disappointed – shall I continue? Yes, racism happens not just often, but I’d say all the time.
And the trick is that white people don’t get it. The reason they don’t get it is because it doesn’t happen to them. I read this article today about the different classes of racist and have to admit I know them all many times over. Don’t think I haven’t thought about leaving New Orleans because the murder rate for young brown skinned boys is high here, but where would we go? California – because they are soooo progressive there? Wrong. Chicago, because we don’t mind being segregated on the South Side? Where would we escape racism in this country – the answer is we can’t.
So if you are white and reading this and it shocks you that racism occurs daily, constantly, for people of color, I double dog dare you to do something about it. And if you don’t know how to take the first step, email me, I’ve got a workshop tailor made for you.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards solving it.