Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blahg

Here's a pet peeve: People who come to their neglected blogs to blog about how guilty they feel for neglecting their blogs.

Here's a confession: I feel kinda guilty for neglecting my blog.

There's no shortage of hilarity here to blog about, so why the silence? Honestly, here's a part of it: I'm not great at writing about the non-hilarity, so when my thoughts are consumed by something other than oh-my-god-my-kids-are-freaking-hilarious, I tend to sit on my hands. And so it has been since the Trayvon Martin homicide. So, so, so many other people have expressed my worries so much better than I can. But here's the short of it: It sucks—absolutely sucks—that my 6-year-old son needs to learn that he cannot behave in the same ways as his white friends and siblings if he wants to stay alive and out of jail. That he needs to know that even though we know what a good, smart, freaking hilarious kid he is, others might look at him and see a threat. That his jokes might not be seen as jokes because people will distrust him. That my sweet little boy, who agonizes with guilt when he steps on ants, will be seen as dangerous because of his beautiful brown skin.

I can't even begin to express the anger, the outrage, the sadness, and the despair that this realization causes me. And what's worse is that I didn't know it, didn't truly believe it, until I was the one with blood on the line. Sure I knew, intellectually, that there was disparity and that it sucked and that someone sure oughta do something about it. But until it was my very own child—my imperfect yet perfect love—whose humanity people would be doubting, I didn't really feel it. I consider myself an empathetic person, but my heart just never quite understood. Not until it split in two five years ago and half of it started walking around in a tiny brown body.

We live in a pretty diverse little neighborhood, by choice. We love it. But not too far away is a new-urbanism neighborhood in which I have lots of friends. It has oodles of lovely qualities, but diversity is not among them. I'm a part of the moms' online forum for that neighborhood, mostly because it's a great place to look when I need to buy used kids' gear. In the past two years, I have seen numerous messages on the group that are straight-up racial profiling broadcasts (eg, "Suspicious man walking down my block! Lock your doors!"). When the poster is questioned (if it even takes that—sometimes it's right there in the original message), that "suspicious man" is always a person of color. A few times the wives of these "suspicious men" have sent messages to the group expressing their outrage, their humiliation, their sadness over the fact that their husbands have been harassed—sometimes even detained by police and questioned for hours without the courtesy of a phone call home—because some lily white family in this lily white neighborhood has seen them not as neighbors and fellow parents, but as outsiders, threats.

Usually these outraged emails are met with disgust from other community members and calls for action, tolerance, understanding. But there also usually the "better safe than sorry!" contingent who feels racial profiling is a small price to pay if it might, by chance, prevent a crime.

Easy to say when you're not the one being detained for four hours. When you're not the one calling all the local hospitals to find out if your husband has been hit by a car, since he never came home from walking the dog after work.

It's this, these thousands of tiny cuts, that attack black men's humanity every single day. Not in ways that make the news, not in ways that generate millions of petition signatures, not in ways that land them in morgues. But it's this that skews our society and creates two completely different sets of rules, realities, and possibilites: one for the privileged, and one for everyone else.

And it haunts me that it took this


for me to truly see it.

3 comments:

Bridget said...

Oh, D. You have expressed everything I am thinking as well. Oh my heart.

konjochild said...

So glad you moved your hands and started typing. I can relate to much of what you wrote.

hotflawedmama said...

amen, sister. Love to you all.