She Come Undone: Confronting White Apathy as a Multiracial Mother
I kneel on the bathroom floor, with my forehead to the ground, and start to pray. The kids are bickering outside the door, making it difficult to hear my own thoughts. As it should be, childhood isn’t concerned with savage inequalities and societal violence. So I give up. I give up praying.
For a few breaths, I regain composure. Still in prayer position, I inhale. Peace. Exhale, strength. Inhale, perspective. Exhale, forgiveness. Am I having a panic attack?
Alina’s high pitched shrieking alerts me that she’s hurt. Sebastian is screaming that he’s sorry and, because summer waits for no mom’s sanity, my meditation is over. Self care turns to healthcare for the massive splinter under my daughter’s toenail. I take tweezers to the splinter, still breathing for peace, strength, perspective and forgiveness. I’ve officially come undone.
Once again, I’m mostly alone as a mom to multiracial children in my white, apathetic world. But in the four years since Trayvon’s senseless murder, I’ve come to understand the cost of being blind to racism (even in the suburbs). My multiracial motherhood has matured. And unlike before, I can no longer stay neutral to the apathetic environment I’m allowing my children to associate with and be raised in.
If you’re not standing with me – with humanity, tolerance, fairness and kindess – you are, in a very real way, standing against me and my family.
This week, like the way my husband is gawked at by police WHEREVER we go, I start to study the people in my life that choose to stay silent in the face of black tragedy. My family, my close friends – people that I have prayed for in their hour of illness, who’s children I’ve celebrated, divorces that I have cried over – where are these people when I need them?
When our nation is coming undone under the sins of racism and generational persecution and inequalities that we have yet to atone for, it was made clear where my children can find safety in their hour of need, when they grow into the exotic breed of humans that is hunted by the other. This is not political for me. This is not about whose life matters more than the other. This is survival. This is about teaching my children how to find white allies and how to stay away from those who will abandon them as their blood stains the concrete.
Our black children can not find safety with those who are tone-deaf, callous and apathetic to the realities of being black in America. My children are not safe with you.
I’ve tried to write this countless times over the week following the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Then again after the horrifying attack on the Dallas Police Department during a peaceful #BlackLivesMatter protest, where 11 officers were gunned downed simply for the uniform they wear. But how can you mourn one and not the other? How dare you show your immature humanity in my face and not expect my judgement?
The chaos is terrifying, but your silence is killing my soul.
I’ve confronted the white apathy in my environment and have chosen the actions that need to be taken. Another conversation is documented in my children’s Black Life 101 course. My heart is broken from the losses this week, some of which come through silence and not bloodshed. It comes from white people who I thought cared for us.
To my non-black readers with children of color, I urge you to do the same. Ask your community of loved ones to say something against injustice – to not stay neutral. Take care of your babies and take note of who their lives can be safeguarded with in a world where white life is more valued/protected/mourned for than black.
Take care of each other.