I need you to know that I walk with my kid. And that my kid doesn’t look like me.
I’ve only been a parent-like-thingy for a little more than two years, and it’s been an overwhelming bit of life and change and survival during that time, so I haven’t yet had a chance to do any reading or study on white parents raising mixed-race kids, so I need to admit that I have no data or research or counsel on anything I am about to stay except for my very raw emotions.
These past 112 days, I have been outraged. The killing of Michael Brown, has torn my heart open. The violent response of our police and government to people demanding justice has shocked my lazy conscious into action. I have marched more miles than I can count and stood silently for hours in the sweaty summer heat, a bone-chilling fall rain and the winter snow. I have placed myself and people I love in danger to stand beside and behind the most creative, passionate and inspirational leaders I’ve ever not-met, who all happen to be 15 years younger than me.
And whenever I can, I bring my kid along. I walk beside her through the streets of our city, of our community and chant as loud as I can over the lump always forming in my throat, that her life matters. And yes, I would march alone. I would march without her. I would march on principle. I would march because we all have to chip in if we are going to rid our systems and institutions of racism. I would march because I need to hear what my neighbors are saying. I would march because I think they’re right. And I would march because of my faith. I would march because God says we are all created in God’s image. I would march because God says to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. I would march because God says to love my neighbor. I would march on principle. I would march on God’s instruction. I would march to protect all our children. I would march to say no to all violence. I would march alone.
But most of the time I don’t march on principle at all. I march because God has asked me to protect this one child. God has given me this one child to help raise and encourage and care for. And she doesn’t look like me. And the world doesn’t see her the way the world sees me. And no one ever told me that I had to be careful around police, but I have to have those conversations with her. No one ever told me that I had to be careful about people watching me when I walk into stores, but I have to have those conversations with her. My white skin isn’t the threat that her dark skin is in the eyes of so many in our world. It’s a total cliché and still so very true and I hate it. So, now I see people watching my kid when she walks into the Family Dollar. I see people look at her when we walk into a fancy store. I see how people look at her when she’s walking through a parking lot and a salon and a restaurant and a church. I see how people treat her differently than me. I see it all the time. And that’s just what I see when I’m there.
I am not there all the time. I can’t always walk with her. I can’t always protect her from those looks. Or worse.
So I march. I march with her. I walk beside her and I hide my tears behind big, dark sunglasses and I march. I march because I’ve been stupid and ignorant and guilty for too long. I march because I’ve got to start somewhere. I march to protect her. I march beside her. Even when she’s not there.