Written by Ash Jackson, contributor.
I could start with stories from my husband’s childhood where he describes how being one of three black kids at his middle school taught him that racism exists in America. I could continue it then with a story about a time that someone expressed dislike at our interracial relationship, or compared my husband’s son to a monkey — but it’s already clear that racism exists. There are examples of it everywhere; it’s discussed all the time in major media and the subject of argument after argument in the comment sections on Facebook and articles all over the internet. If you ever want to see what people really think just read the comment section.
I’ve yet to have children but I have a goddaughter and I’ve taken part in raising a few of them, including my younger brother. By marrying a black man with children, I’ve been introduced to fears I never knew I would have. I can only hope I am doing justice to voicing the fears that their mothers face after bringing black boys into this world.
Fears of sending a five year old to school and realizing that you have no control over what he will run into for the rest of the day, let alone the rest of his life. I’ve become a part of this family and with the beautiful chance I’ve gotten to love these little boys, I’ve learned that the fears my mother had about her two boys and I growing up didn’t include the same fears that parents have for children of color. She never thought about warning us of others insulting, publicly humiliating or physically harming her children for the way they look. She had fears of fights, crimes and accidents but she never had to warn about the hate that comes along with being black. She warned me about thieves, rapists and violence but she never had to tell me that no one was going to plaster my face all over the television screen if I went missing.
These are the things that she thinks about now that my brother is expecting a mixed race child, or when my stepson comes over. These are the fears that millions face that I never learned about even though I’ve witnessed friends and strangers being profiled for years. I’ve had run-ins with men wearing badges and I never feared for my life; not the way I fear for my husband’s life when he runs to the store for dog food.
What if our home is broken into and the police show up and mistake him for the robber? What if our music is loud and the neighbor shows up with a shotgun after too much drinking? What if my stepson is playing with a toy gun and it’s mistaken for a real one? Some of these thoughts seem so outrageous written down but they’re not. These things have happened and they continue to happen.
Not enough white people are scared like me or understand their privilege. Our privilege gets swept under the rug, brushed off as something that can’t exist because we didn’t get sent a check with a white privilege approved stamp on it to prove it’s real. Why admit that whites get arrested less for the same crimes? That white people survive long enough to make it to court for crimes that are putting people of color in early graves? Why ask the mothers who have lost children to poverty and violence to explain why they are afraid to send their other kids out into the world?
Carol Anderson, associate professor of African American studies at Emory University, states that: “White rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.”
There are blatant violations of human rights being denied everyday. There are plenty of cold hard data sheets that back up facts that have been shared and debated for years. What is it about admitting to systemic racism that makes it so hard to face? Sure, we’re all scared for the little ones in our lives, we fear for our loved ones health and there is no race or gender that doesn’t fall victim to violent crime but the scales are tipped in white peoples’ favor. I’m afraid to lose my family, to see people I love go through heartbreak because of a lost child, or have to pick up the pieces to a life I’ve built with someone amazing because of senseless violence.