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July 9, 2016

I Promise to Choose this Instead of Fear.

Flickr/Andy Blackledge

I woke up this morning feeling scared.

But that’s not helpful…fear is paralyzing. Fear is the mud that keeps us stuck or shrinking. Fear keeps us in the status quo, and the status quo is clearly not okay today.

Last night, we sat in our suburban house in our small, affluent white town. I made dinner, while my husband read a Harry Potter book to our kids.

I half listened as I stirred rice, my brain boiling about the news. I looked over at my four-year-old, sitting on the floor listening to the story. I thought about the four-year-old in the back of the car that Philando Castile was murdered in.

My four-year-old is creative and loving and demanding. She pretends she’s a baby bunny. She says, “Mama, you’re so special to me.”  She struts around the house, dressed in pink tutus, with bows haphazardly stuck in her hair. What would happen to her if she sat in the backseat of a car while a cop killed someone in the front?

The book was talking about pure-blooded wizards and witches. It talked about half-centaurs.

I was scared. My children are four and seven. I want so much to shield them from the ugliness of the world—but shielding them doesn’t help. It just prolongs the issue. It exacerbates. It breeds more indifference, more racism, more killing.

My husband put down the book.

“Do you guys know what racism is?” my husband asked.

“Yeah,” My son said. “There used to be signs saying that African-American people couldn’t go into some stores.”

“That’s right,” we said. 

“There are some problems in the world right now because some people still don’t understand that we’re all the same inside,” I said.

My son pulled a pamphlet on Martin Luther King, Jr. off of the refrigerator. I read some of his quotes.

I said things like, “Sometimes people are scared of people who are different than we are—but instead of being scared, it’s better to be curious.”

And so, here I am. I’m scared. I’m also pissed and helpless and devastated.

But I’ve promised myself that I will also be curious.

Curious about my own biases. Curious about how to make my little corner of the world less homogeneous. Curious about all the other conversations we’ll have with our children about privilege and diversity. And so very curious how we can go about healing our beautiful, broken world.

It’s not enough, but it’s something.

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Author: Lynn Shattuck

Images: Flickr/Dave CatchpoleFlickr/Andy Blackledge

Editors: Yoli Ramazzina; Travis May

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