Eleanor Roosevelt had an idea. Pondering another communication breakdown, she could have been channeling our current dilemma when she said, in 1960(!):
“We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together. And if we are to live together, we will have to talk.”*
Last night I read this book to my little one:
“What is race?”
I had a simultaneous reaction of relief (many of his friends are of races, genders, and religions other than his, so hopefully he is choosing from heart-connection-similarities, rather than dividing-by-difference) and dread (my child is white. I’m almost entirely positive that if he were not white, he would know what race is. That is the invisible privilege he was born into).
My child looks at the police as his friends.
My child sees adults as people who are there to help him.
My child goes to school not questioning whether his teacher will be able to hear or see him.
My child believes that God is “a force of love that lives in everyone’s hearts,” regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or gender, and that “when you listen to that, you can always find love, not hate.”
When my child learns to drive, I will worry about him. But I will not worry about
him being shot if he is pulled over.
I will not worry about him being checked to see if he is undocumented.
My child has the freedom (aka privilege) to choose friends based on if he feels connected with them and not based on if it is safe/unsafe to be friends with them due to their skin color, ethnicity, religion, or gender.
My child lives in a world in which he doesn’t have to learn another’s language, religion, or culture to find belonging, to live safely, to have access to education, healthcare, approval, or belonging. That is part of the privilege he was born into. I will do my best to help him understand not everyone has that privilege. And that if you have it, it is your responsibility to understand it, and to share it.
This was my favorite part of the book:
“I want to tell you a story. But I need your help. Here’s what I want you to do:
Take your fingers and press softly against your skin right below your eyes. Be careful and don’t poke yourself in the eye. Okay. Now. Press gently until you feel the hard bone right beneath the surface.
Now, if your mom, dad, brother or sister or a friend is close by, ask them if you can touch them. If they say okay, take your fingers and press softly at the same place beneath their eyes. Press gently until you feel the hard bones right beneath the skin….
Beneath everyone’s skin are the same hard bones.
That’s right. The same hard bones. And, as my little one said “We have the same fingernails…and the same pupils inside our eyes.”
The same eyes. Eyes that are capable of seeing terror, horror, and redemption. Eyes that are capable of seeing, appreciating, protecting, and celebrating difference. Eyes that are capable of seeing through the eyes of compassion. Arms that are capable of doing the work of love instead of fear. Arms and feet that are working… working toward liberty and justice for all. There is work to be done. There is work to be done.
*”Why We Need to Talk About Race,” Oprah.com, Read more here