January 20, 2018 – I’m teaching my kids to see color.
I wish I could say “we’re colorblind!” but we aren’t. To begin with, my older child has autism. He doesn’t do metaphor. He doesn’t do poetry. He sees that his African American friends and Hispanic friends look different than him. They do. End of story.
And by trying to quiet that, or ignore that, I’m sending the message that black is bad. That brown is bad. That we don’t talk about it, or that we shouldn’t talk about it. That it’s something we ignore. And it shouldn’t be.
And if I teach them to be colorblind, I’m teaching him to ignore the very real, major differences in their lives, versus the lives of their friends of color. My children have never been marched against. My children have never had racial epithets hurled at them. It’s more than race, too. It’s other differences. My children haven’t been discriminated against based upon their religion, had family banned from their country because of religion or origin, had the threat of a wall dividing them from their loved ones to contend with. My children don’t have to worry about whether their parents will wake up to find their marriage dissolved, their union taken away, their love somehow considered “less than” and illegal.
My children would not be who the President spoke of when he dismissed citizens of non-white places as being from “s***hole countries.”
I wish we lived in the sort of world where color just didn’t matter at all, but we don’t.
And if I don’t teach my kids to recognize people who are different from themselves, then they won’t be able to recognize discrimination, or, even worse, they may dismiss it. If something doesn’t exist, then how can there be a problem with it, after all?
We talked about differences, and how sometimes, there are mean people who just don’t like someone because of skin color, or religion, or maybe because they have two moms or just one dad, or because they go to church on Sunday, or don’t go to church at all. We talked about what we should do if we see someone being mean to someone like that. Because it starts early.
I wish I could teach my kids to be colorblind. But until racism is eradicated, we will continue to see color, so that we can recognize the very real, different life experiences people of color contend with, and recognize the very real problem of racism when it happens. I’m teaching my kids to see people for who they are, whether they look differently, or worship differently, or love differently, so that when they are treated poorly because of those differences, my kids recognize that, as well.
We must do more than just wish things were different. We must raise the change we want to see in this world.
And it starts at home.