This story from the Daddy Complex is heartbreaking, and I had to share it.
My wife was at the market when she overheard a black woman arguing with her pre-teen son. The woman emphatically repeated, “It’s not true! It’s just not true!”
The woman then led her son over to my wife and this conversation followed…
Woman: Excuse me, may I ask you a question? Are you what’s considered white?
Wife: Uh… Yes.
Woman: And do you hate black people?
Wife: God, no.
The woman then turned to her son and said, “See? Not all white people hate black people. Your friends are wrong.”
My wife immediately felt simultaneous senses of heartbreak that any young black kid would believe that and hope that this interaction could, in some way, help. But, she knew anything she said would seem outweighed by the countless acts of murder perpetrated upon black youths week after week. Even hearing it from someone standing right in front of you doesn’t compare to visions on TV of dead black children lying on America’s streets.
My wife told the young man about our boys’ best friend, whose dad is black, and how we consider their family an extension of our own. (Admittedly, it’s a version of the “some of my best friends are black” cliché, but in this case it directly applied.) She also talked about the many other people of color in our lives that we love. She said to the boy, “I’m white and I don’t hate you.”
The woman thanked my wife, then guided her son on their shopping errand. My wife felt as stunned as she imagined the other mother did. She thought, Is this what is happening? Is this what continues to happen in 2014? And far more chilling, Is this what children think the world is supposed to be like?
My hope is that the boy felt stunned, too—stunned that, despite violent and unjust evidence to the contrary, there’s an overwhelming number of people who care for others without stipulations, without allowances.
To that young man, wherever he is now, I want to say this:
Yes, hate exists and it seems powerful, but it isn’t. It’s weak and petty and fearful. I’m white and I don’t hate you. Because love is strength. In fact, tell your friends you are each loved by many, many strong people of all races, all colors. And I want each of you to know that love conquers hate. Always.
It almost seems like each week brings new stories of black men shot by white cops. Michael Brown, John Crawford, Levar Jones. Then there’s NYC stop and frisk, and the racial imbalance behind Stand Your Ground laws in court, and… hey white America, you’ve got a problem.
I’ve been tagging some of it over at Read On the Internet, but it’s overwhelming. And I’m a white person who only recently woke up to the systemic racial issues around me.
And as demonstrated in David Vienna’s story, above: look what it’s doing to kids. This is insanity.