My heart weighs heavier today. Injustice hit the forefront once again.
I am beyond disappointed and beyond depressed. I am fearful for the ones I love. How can my mental health be good going forward from this? My voice is irrelevant and powerless. Nothing makes sense to me anymore.
The verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case is a slap in America’s face and humanity’s.
I am a mother of three adult, biracial children. I am ashamed of myself for being silent, and damn proud of them for being passionate.
I was married to their Black father for 25 years. I had to fight my family to be with him, particularly my parents, who did not want me to suffer from the way I would be treated by others for being with him. I did not budge from their ignorance though; I was not going to let them control who I loved. And I’m proud that I stood my ground.
They learned to love my husband for the content of his character and not believe in the stereotypes they grew up learning. They were on cloud nine. My children were the first grandkids and everyone in my family loved them. From day one, they were special kids. They make me proud every day, but they also give me so much anxiety because of this world we live in.
When they were in elementary school, I would get looks from their classmates. That look said, who is that lady? My children were questioned all the time about who that “white” lady was. I could tell this bothered them. I do not think their father or I handled it correctly. I tried to reiterate to my children that they would encounter people in their lives who were not going to like them solely for the color of their skin. My best advice was to ignore them. But I think my message has been lost. I wanted them to know they were fine, inside and out, and that the opinions of others do not matter. I wanted them to know that they were beyond greatness, despite what others thought, and that loving themselves is important.
Today, I am questioning everything I preached to them.
Did I prepare them for what is happening in the world right now? I highly doubt it. Twenty years ago, the world was the same. But at the same time, it is very different. The ugly truths are coming to light. People are no longer keeping silent. The attempts to bring it to light 20 years ago were unsuccessful. The attempts even 60 years back were a dent in the problem. The problem I am talking about is systemic racism.
In 2021, it is all we speak about in many forms. We talk and talk and point fingers at the wrong that is done. We have strong opinions on what is right and wrong. No one is really listening. Therefore, a healthy conversation is not happening. Everyone is speaking out in angst. Social media is just an adult playground for bullying. We are beyond tired and some of us are throwing our hands up and leaving ourselves out of the conversation. I am guilty of that. When I was 18, I fought a fight against injustice. But it was mine and mine alone. I need to change this—I just do not know where to start.
I question my parenting skills in preparing my children for this hate we display in the world. Telling them as young children that they must ignore ignorance was wrong. I essentially told them to repeat the cycle.
In light of the George Floyd murder, I got in arguments with my kids. Looking back, I was coming from a place of selfishness. All they were feeling was pain. Another Black man was killed just for being Black, someone who looks like them. I felt helpless. They were feeling disappointed, angry, and possibly scared. I did not know how to console them. All they wanted to do was fix it—and this scared me. The state of mind of young people is to fight. I did not want that to be my children. I did not want my children to be in harm’s way. My heart sinks into my gut when I think about any of my kids being next.
Hate and ignorance run rampant everywhere and it hides right under our noses. You can walk past anyone, and they can size you up just by how you are dressed and the color of your skin. An altercation could happen just because someone feels privileged to do so. Now, you cannot even say your political or religious opinions without getting into an argument. You are not safe anywhere.
All of my children are living on their own now. My son is 24, my daughter is 22, and I have another daughter who’s 19. All of them have very strong dispositions. I could not make them quiet even if I tried. They argued with me because they did not like my stance. I did not want them to take a stance; I just wanted them to be safe. I never want to get a phone call or a knock at my door that something happened to them. That is a mother’s worst nightmare—to lose a child.
The hardest thing I have had to learn as a mother is to let go. And to trust myself and how I raised my kids. I do not hear from them very often. I try not to be a helicopter mom or bug them too much, but I always worry about them. My anxiety is high all the time. They could be the next Trayvon Martin or Sandra Bland or Breonna Taylor. My kids are very outspoken on the things they are passionate about. Injustices of the world are one of them. How could I be so selfish as to want to silence my kids? That is taking away their power.
This has all taught me a valuable lesson: Silence is taking away the power to make change. Not speaking up about injustice is hindering positive change.
I want my kids to enjoy the good in the world and be happy without me having to tell them to keep their heads on a swivel. They have extra added stress hanging over their heads just because of how they look. How is this fair?
With this latest outrage of injustice, I am heartbroken. This ugliness is getting worse and not better. Our mental health is suffering. Arguments are not being heard. Minds and hearts are closed. The division and fear mongering is growing. Systemic racism is obvious in our everyday lives. Why are we being so quiet? How hard is it to have a mature conversation? It is clear to me the value of life, yet for others, the value sits with white lives only. The value lies with controlling one side’s bottom line, which is to be superior to all human race.
Do as I say and not as I do, with two sets of rules. How is anyone’s life more or less precious than mine or yours? Privilege, oppression, hate, violence, control and power are more important than love. That is killing us all.
Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty of killing. He will live the rest of his life knowing that. I hope he is reminded every day he is out in public. I hope Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber haunt him in his dreams. He got a “get out of jail free” card, but living with guilt is torture.
The way we treat each other needs to change.
Where do we start? Someone tell me please.
Black Lives Matter.