My son attends two separate day programs, both at churches. One Lutheran, one Baptist. My son and daughter are in a MOPS program at another Lutheran church. The three of us attend in a community ed. Early Childhood class at a local school. Our family belongs to a large church in the liberal-ish ELCA Lutheran denomination. We live in a big suburb just south of Minneapolis.
And I am fairly certain that I can count the number of black people in the life of my children on my two hands.
So when I see tweets like this:
I get a pit in my stomach, because I don’t know how to talk to them. How do I do that when I feel completely and utterly unequipped and voiceless? How does our family engage in conversation with people of color when there aren’t any in our life? Short of moving, how do we expose our children to the culture they’re bereft of? I grew up in a town and schools as white as their Scandinavian heritage. I don’t know how to have these conversations, I don’t feel unqualified to have these conversations, and I am terrified that I will say the wrong thing and unintentionally offend someone.
But bigger than my fear is my conviction that love needs to win. That we are unequivocally called to live love to everyone. That we are asked to live humbly, and love mercy, and fight for justice.
These are the things I will teach my children. And so I talk love. I talk acceptance. I talk privilege softly, because my son is only two but he understands more than I think he does. I talk injustice. I may not be able to answer all of my questions, mostly because I’m not sure there are actual answers or endings to them, but I can respond shakily to her tweet with this post.
I can talk to my babies.
In our home, we will not shy away from the hard conversations. I will teach my children to heed the pit in their stomach that signals wrongdoing, and to help the helpless. I will model love and loving others to them so that they grow up steeped in that behavior. I will uplift our friends, and friends we haven’t met yet, and people on the news, and families in our community. I will do my best to show with my life that God created each and every person in exact and equal and gracefilled, unfair love, and that is how we are to treat one another.
I don’t want my children to grow up colorblind. I want them to grow up celebrating. Celebrating our differences, celebrating our similarities, celebrating each other, and celebrating the One who created each and every person. I want them to praise the One who created pigment, and hair texture, and countries, and cities. I want them to notice and celebrate diversity of all kinds – race, religion, age, demographic – because it is from that place of celebration that conversation, and recognition, and kindness, and love, will stem.
I don’t have answers because I’m not sure there are any. All I know is love. And from where I find myself standing, a 32-year old white surburban mother of two, that has to be enough.
A few of my friends have voiced their thoughts about the events in Ferguson, MO much more eloquently than I: