I was in the process of blogging the occasional pandemic when George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis. The world was already on fire before it happened, but this event took us to another level of fear and devastation. Millions of people expressed collective indignation when they took to the streets to protest another horrific police murder of a black person. A great awakening was and is when more and more people committed themselves to taking action to reduce racism in this country.
I stopped writing here. There are always many reasons not to get down to writing (see: Single Working Mother with Two Young Children at Home in a Pandemic), but after a while I realized that I was very paralyzed about race. I don’t go ahead without writing about it, but I’m not sure how to write about it in this room. So far I have dedicated myself to capturing details of my life as a single (white) mother.
I wasn’t sure what to write about racial injustice (who wants to hear a white lady’s interpretation of all of this?). But I couldn’t go on writing about my usual everyday sweet stuff as if nothing had ever happened; without recognition of the insurrection, the ongoing police brutality and the obnoxious racist systems on which our nation is built. Of everything we can and must do.
I’ve seen many Facebook groups melt about it in the past few weeks – someone writes, “Do we need to talk about it? Here? “And then all hell breaks loose.
Well, I don’t expect all hell to break loose here because it is my blog and I can write whatever I want. But now I realize that yes, mommies. We have to talk about it here and in every room we are in because it is related to everything and we have to stop pretending it isn’t. Silence conveys ignorance, apathy or (in the worst case) conscious complicity. I am intimidated and nervous in this room of silence and I no longer agree to it. I no longer give breastfeeding people the benefit of the doubt. That’s why I’m writing about it here, because I have a small platform and because otherwise I’m not sure whether I can continue to write here at all.
I posted on this topic on a local single mom Facebook group because no one had written about it and I got this creepy feeling – like, who’s in here? Are there any Trump supporters here? [gag]? And if I feel uncomfortable, how do the black mothers feel about this silence?
I wrote something and deleted it. Wrote something and deleted it again. Spent two hours revising and re-working and deleting a post. I admitted that I was scared – saying the wrong things, saying it about myself (“centering”), “signaling virtue” or “performative allies” and everything else unsuspecting whites do when discussing race. I also had no idea who I was up against and what answers I might get. I could imagine someone posting a comment like “All life is important” or worse and sending me completely over the edge.
I called a friend who is good at this stuff and she encouraged me to go ahead and post. I did. The post confirmed the painful time we are in, that I personally have a lot to do to be a better ally of the BIPOC and that I am learning. I asked how other white mothers think about our role in making change and how they get involved. And how we can improve the next generation by raising anti-racist children.
I also addressed the black mothers and those who raise black children (and I want to do that here too): I stand by you and support you. You belong here.
The posting was largely a relief at this point – and the responses were thoughtful. Lots of people didn’t get involved (which amazes me). But I didn’t have any answers that didn’t fully support me.
I had no idea how difficult this was going to be – and it was just a post on social media. Imagine you are at the end of a life full of racist acts, guidelines and assumptions. Fear for the safety of loved ones.
I’m very sheltered in my liberal bubble (and so have little practice with it), but damn it – I can post. And if I am faced with racist reactions, I will defend myself against it. It’s the least I can do.
It might get clunky and awkward, and maybe I’ll do it, but it’s really important to do it anyway. So my post here today.
I came across this quote today:
“While many people are afraid to talk about race, just as many use conversation to hide from what they really fear: action.”
~ Ijeoma Oluo, author of So you want to talk about racing
So far I’ve talked about conversations. The most important thing, however, is to take action. Sure, we can cancel Aunt Jemima and “Master Bedroom”, but if blacks continue to be brutalized and murdered by the police, our biggest problem will remain unsolved.
Of course, SMCs have no free time, especially during a pandemic. However, if you are a white person looking for a way to incorporate action into your daily life, I highly recommend this 30 day justice plan to get started – a fantastic curated list of articles, books, podcasts, TED talks, action steps, organizations to donate to, etc.). Feasible and eye-opening.
And just the beginning. Hopefully we’ll keep that momentum going forever (so it’s important that we speed ourselves up). (And, full disclaimer, I haven’t worked through it all – I consider it a summer justice plan.)
Yesterday was July 4th. We had a perfectly normal day with not an ounce of patriotic activity. It didn’t even come up. 2020: obviously not America’s best year. I believe that taking action in support of the Black Lives Matter movement is one of the most patriotic things we can do right now. We have many generations of healing before us before the pain of the legacy of slavery wears off.
I took my children to our village to protest a few weeks ago, and I hope we will do a lot more together in the years to come. I want to raise white children who are anti-racist and who understand white privilege and our history. And who has learned to fight for change.
Stay safe. Black lives count.
Miss you!! xoxo
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