Friday, July 19, 2013

Don't Let Racists Scare the Faith Out of You

I've dropped a few tears here and there during this entire Travyon Martin tragedy. But tonight it got unexpectedly ugly. The breakdown I had is the kind you only want to have alone, where no one can see just how out of control you are. What, you ask, can trigger this level of despair in a recovering control freak such as myself?

These vile racist social media posts about President Obama's commentary on Trayvon Martin and racism. 

What terrifies me is the very real possibility that sometime in her life, my beautiful, smart and witty child may encounter one of these people and have to be wise enough to free herself from a life-threatening situation. Can I teach her to observe and listen for the nuances in approach, body language, conversation, and environment to recognize when she's dealing with such a person - especially if they are not so obvious in their warped perspective?

What are my qualifications to instill in her these necessary skills? I didn't march with Dr. Martin Luther King like my mother, or fight and sue for civil rights like my grandfather, or face frequent racial strife like my elders or even my contemporaries who grew up in more challenging situations than me.

The shortened life of Trayvon Martin and the powerful national conversation that is escalating via Obama's commentary has forced me to take stock of my own "privileged" experienced. I've had a few uncomfortable conversations and encounters about race with people who didn't look like me. But I can't say that I ever felt I was in danger of bodily harm. And that is certainly a blessing.

But I am concerned that even if we - me, her father, and those experienced elders we enlist to help - do our best to educate my daughter, will learning those skills protect her?

These hateful comments shook me to my core - so much so that they almost scared the faith right up out of me. But that's when I started to pray - in the midst of that soul-crushing fear. Listen, I'm not a preachy person or a Bible thumper. There's lots of spiritual work I need to do. And I don't think that Christianity is the only way for everybody. But honestly, I would just be lost without my faith because I don't know everything and I am not in control. Just like many of you, when I send my child off to school, camp, dance, chess, whatever- I hope and pray she's there, safe and happy when I pick her up.

Raising a child of color in this world littered with every kind of landmine imaginable can be frightening.  So parents, people, don't let racists - or any dangerous folks - scare the faith out of you. In the battle between faith and fear, let the former win. And don't beat yourself up for having a crisis of faltering faith. Embrace your humanity and you'll recognize and appreciate it in others, which hopefully can diffuse scary situations.

As always, keep Enjoyceingife. It's a gift.

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