I very recently said, “The last thing the world needs is another goddamn straight, white, middle-aged man talking about how to fix or even address issues of race and gender inequality.”
I should have taken my own advice.
When I wrote yesterday’s post about my wife’s encounter with a mother trying to convince her son that not all white people hate all black people, I should have refrained from adding my commentary at the end. That commentary—that love conquers all—was not posed as a solution to racism. But, in the context of the post, it does come off as, at best, laughably naïve and, at worst, offensive.
People who have grown up amid rampant and systemic racism affecting every aspect of their lives surely don’t all agree that love always conquers hate. After all, there’s no shortage of love in the world and yet that hate still exists, nay thrives.
In fact, I hate, too. I hate how the world is right now. I feel powerless to overcome it. And my kids know it shouldn’t be this way. So, I fill myself with hope—hope that it will change, that it will get better. And that hope keeps me from just accepting that nothing can be done. That’s where the commentary at the end of the post came from, a place of hope.
But, hope doesn’t stop a bullet.
Though I still believe love conquers hate, this is a much more complex issue and it won’t be solved with greeting card platitudes. As I said in the first linked post above, the best thing I can do is listen to people affected by social injustice and then take the appropriate actions they suggest.
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.
Holy merciful God! It’s a new episode of Discussing News With My Kids!
This week, we cover that guy who breached White House security, the cheerleaders suing the NFL and NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft orbiting Mars. Also, thanks to a technical glitch while taping this one, we all seem to move like Max Headroom.
As always, this video is like my kids—short and funny. Enjoy.
Just started this classic with the boys. It makes me want to eat candy.
With Halloween sneaking up like a well-dressed child with a knowing smirk, we take a look at some of cinema’s creepiest kids.
I’m not a huge fan of Flavorwire list posts (or anyone’s list posts, actually), but this mentions some good flicks. Like, if you haven’t seen The Brood, remedy that immediately.
Skip The Good Son, though. That movie is a total crapsicle thanks to Macaulay Culkin’s lack of acting ability.
I’m not sure when it happens, but at some point in a child’s development it’s okay to admit their “exaggerating” is just “lying.”
We did another Week in Dads last night, even though 50 percent of those who showed up were sick (with an illness, not like a cool skate trick).
We discussed a new Pew Research poll about qualities parents desire most in their kids, body hair, that Sam Pepper asshole, space ninjas, and a bunch of other stuff.