“Mom! Have you heard what’s happening?”
My preteen daughters both jumped up to greet me at the door, uttering the question in shuttering urgency.
The night before, I had been up all night watching my friends’ feeds in real time. They filled with African Americans united in protest, and I was torn between awe and heartbreak at the first wave of lootings that had been instigated by an infiltrator.
My heart ached as I knew that by morning, the wrong person would be blamed; the helplessness became so heavy. It was impossible to clear my head enough to sleep.
In the morning, I left the house without saying goodbye to my sleeping girls, thinking that when I got home, I would sit them down and speak about racism once again. Racism in America has been a big part of our road schooling curriculum, and one of the driving forces behind our life as nomads. As we travel the United States and have encountered all types of racism. All three of our skin tones grade with different degrees of melanin.
But when I got home, the news had made it to a preteen’s news source: TikTok. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. I always considered it mindless entertainment, but this news could not have been contained to regular news sources.
As I walked through the front door, my oldest daughter plopped down on the sofa, legs wide, leaning forward to rub her face with both hands almost as if to adjust her vision and come back to a different, more clear reality. Her frustration grew as she attempted to collect her thoughts.
“Mom, but they are rioting and looting!” she said in disbelief.
Inside, I smiled a little. I have always preached peace, love, and kindness, so I was not surprised with her point of debate. There have been many times I have said the same.
But this time is different.
Before I explained the uniqueness of the situation, I went through the reality that what is being portrayed in the media is not always the truth but only a perspective, and that there had already been reports of infiltration. But then I set out to open her mind to a reality from a viewpoint that might hit closer to home.
After all, our children are not only dying by the hands of officers; they are also in cages. There were politicians that spoke out, memes passed around, and peaceful protests for that. Nothing changed and people eventually forgot.
Me! An immigrant who entered the social security office 31 years ago as a child scared to death of what might happen. The memory of that cold, old building with cement walls filled with the scent of institution and 70s Formica furniture. The memory of the building where I watched my family being questioned in an unwelcoming office by a stranger whose opinion would decide our future, while my parents nervously answered each question, trying to be likable and charming—as if their life depended on it.
I could have been one of those children in a cage, alone.
But I forgot because I have the privilege to forget. I had the privilege that once I left that office, my skin painted a picture of belonging, of being white or American or harmless.
But this is different.
Because if my child were in danger every day of being murdered or found guilty in the court of public opinion based solely on the color of their skin, I would rage.
I would collect every ounce of strength in my being to fight for their innate rights.
I would resort to any means necessary to stop their oppressors, to change the world, to save my children.
I would step out, guns blazing, to make sure my child had an opportunity to create the life they chose and not the life someone else allowed them to have based on their outside appearance.
And these are my children.
These are our children. Maybe not by blood, but by race—the human race. They deserve us, no matter our skin color, to fight for them.
They deserve us acknowledging our privilege and meeting them in the front lines.
They deserve that we open our hearts to their pain, to their blood shed, to their oppression.
My stance on this shocked my girls. But hopefully it planted a seed to look within the depth of their souls for a stance on each situation, and to not just be told by the outside world how they should feel, live, or judge others.
We are all human and we do and want the best for the ones we love. Let us stand for our children—our brothers and sisters in humanity.