Monday, 26 March 2012
I wish we lived in a world where race was never an issue. However, it is. It isn't talked about because racism has become taboo, but it still exists and it's still prevalent. I am not a young black man, so I can't dare say that I know what it's like to be judged like Trayvon Martin was the night he was murdered. However, I am Korean and Irish, and for two years we lived two doors down from a girl whose family were members of the KKK - along with half the town. It was the worst two years of my life. I learned how to fight in those two years, and I learned how evil kids can really be. When I started dating, I realized it even more. I thought children were cruel - teenagers and adults were worse. Most of the time I would ignore it all or brush it off because I knew it was just ignorance, but I had my moments where it would get to me. I just can not understand how on earth someone's skin color could be such a significant factor in the world... But it is.
When I met my current boyfriend, children were the last thing on our minds. When we found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I thought about was having "The Race Talk." It seriously hurts my heart to say, but it is a reality that black and mixed children will more likely than not have this talk with their parents. It entails the fact that people will judge them because of their skin color, that they have to work hard to break those stereotypes, and that they have to take certain precautions that other races don't have to - like not wearing hoodies, even when it's raining. I also know that I will have to explain to my son that a lot of mixed children like to "claim" one race or another, and that he should be proud of all three of his different cultural backgrounds. I don't know if Hispanic or Asian families have a similar talk. I do know that when we moved to Tennessee, my parents sat me down and had to explain to me that despite our multicultural family, not everyone sees things the way we do, and not everyone is as accepting of difference as others. My boyfriend will have to sit my son down and explain to him that even though he is tri-racial, some people will see him simply as a black kid. I know that I could probably have that talk with him, but I know that it won't be the same coming from me as it would from my boyfriend.
When the Trayvon Martin story broke, I literally cried. I thought about my nephews, and how close in age they are to him, and that it could have easily been one of them. I thought about my son and how he will have to second guess what he wears, how he talks, and where he goes. I thought about the fact that no matter how hard we will try not to make race an issue in my son's life, there will be times where it will be an issue. I even remember telling my mother that I refused to put my son in anything with monkeys on it, or give him any monkey toys simply for the fact that I knew that even as a baby someone would attempt to make a racial joke about my son, and I didn't want to give them the open door. I asked myself if I were Trayvon's parents, could I have the self control and decorum not to find George Zimmerman and give him a piece of his own vigilante justice. I give them so much respect and admiration for realizing that the issue is deeper than revenge. Yes, Zimmerman needs to be put away, but without changing the laws, without exposing the holes in the system, tragedies like this would continue.
I asked my boyfriend today if he has thought about what he would tell our son on that day. He sat there staring, and after a long pause he said, "I honestly have no idea... I just know that I wished by the time he was old enough to have to have that conversation, it wouldn't be necessary." Me, too, baby. Me, too.