Playing in the Park-Two Different Worlds

I wrote this on my Facebook page on December 6, 2014.  My heart was so broken that day I could not contain my feelings of hurt, disappointment, and sadness.  It started a dialogue with many friends and for that I am grateful. With everything else that has been going on the last months and now the massacre in South Carolina that heartache is just as real as ever.

I am again having more difficult conversations with my children that I just don’t have the answers for, but I am willing to dialogue. I can’t live in denial and pretend it’s not there.  My reality stares me in the face every time I look in the mirror.  I leave my children vulnerable if I’m not willing to face these events.

Tonight, while looking at my Facebook feed, I was surprised shocked by how many of my Christian Facebook friends had posted articles on how to deal with the Supreme Court decision about gay marriage, but how many seemed to stay silent in response to the events in South Carolina last week. I am not saying South Carolina didn’t receive any commentary, but it was usually a quick caption, “Pray for South Carolina”.  It was nothing that addressed the hate that led to the killings or anything that talked about how to deal with healing our country of the hate that pervades it.

Last night, I listened to a video of a pastor who was not afraid to try and begin to process these things out loud.  It was a white pastor who stated a friend of his told him, the silence of his Christian friends was deafening about the things going on in this country.  I understood what he was saying, but today that silence grew even louder for me. I believe silence comes many times because people don’t know what to say or do, but sometimes not saying anything feels like you’re accepting things as the way of the world. I’m a talker and think it can always be a first step.

I’m including the post from December because unfortunately, that hurt is still fresh.  I hope someone else can benefit from the raw emotions I felt that day and be brave enough to try to learn about the experiences of someone living in a world different from their own.

On my way home just now, I saw 3 boys in the park playing.My oldest from the backseat says, “Mommy those boys have a rifle”. I replied, “I know. It’s a toy”.  Her response, “That looks dangerous.” I said, “It would be more dangerous for you and your brother.”

She and her brother obviously had no idea what I meant. So, I told them the story of the 12 year old boy shot by police officers while playing with a toy gun. I explained the phone call to the police and tried to answer as many of their confused questions as I could. But in the end I had to be completely honest and tell my 8 year old and my soon to be 6 year old that this country, this world, will always be a lot more dangerous for them than it is for many of their friends because of the color of their skin. I told them there are things I will have to teach them to keep them as safe as possible that many of their friends will never have to learn. I did not cry outwardly, but inside I am sobbing!

There is a serious disconnect that needs to be fixed in this country. No one can understand what it’s like to walk in this skin unless you’ve had to do it. No one can understand the heartache and the fear for your children many African American parents deal with each and every day, but you can try to understand if you are willing to hear things that may make you uncomfortable.

If you are my friend and I am the only African American you know, I am opening the floor for questions. Ask me about my experiences with racism. Ask me how old I was when I had to learn things were different for me. Ask me about the culture shock I experienced when I went away to college. Ask me what is was like to be forced to have a conversation with my children about their skin. I am not an expert on African Americans in this country, but I have a lot of personal experiences that may add a face to the indignities that you’ve been hearing about and I’m willing to share because this is just becoming too much. We have to talk about this stuff for the sake of my children and yours. Ask the difficult questions.

God uses those difficult situations to help us grow.

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