Did y’all ever watch the Facts of Life? I remember as a little girl wishing I could be a part of their boarding school and “Tootie” would be my friend. At the time, I saw her as just the fun, always into someone’s business, roller skating girl. As I looked around my elementary school classroom, I didn’t see a Tootie. Somewhere around fifth grade I started to see that all my friends had the same color skin as me. Living in a small town in North Georgia, that was pretty much the norm.
Questions have evolved over the years as I look at the people that surround me…. are they kind, do we share the same values or faith, what’s a gift I have that would be helpful to their life and vice versa? Seemed deep enough for me as I waded through my teens and early-mid twenties.
When #blacklivesmatter started up, football players were kneeling during our National Anthem, and YouTube videos of young black men being handled inhumanely during routine traffic stops flooded my newsfeed, I ripped off my rose colored glasses. From the time I was 0-28, I lived with the motto of “We are all equal”. But that’s not the case.
In Chattanooga alone, neighborhoods are very segregated beyond income status. Churches have one dominant race per congregation. Jackie Hill Perry stated, “Our oneness as the body of Christ does not eliminate our uniqueness as the body of Christ.” I want my women of color friends to see themselves on the same stages and in the same places as white women have been; sharing their stories from their unique perspective. We all have much to give! We all deserve shared spaces!
Here’s the question that poses now, “How can I see color? How can I help my kids to see color? Beyond that, what can we do to help blend?”
Since kids say what’s on their minds, I asked my 10,6, and 5 year old the same question, “What color are you?”
5yo “Ummmm a little not tan right now.”
6yo “I’m skin colored!”
10yo “Girls, you’re white. We are white.”
That was a good starting point… leading into a conversation about whether or not it mattered if someone looked differently than them, should they still be treated the same. “Yes!” Could have left it there, but I led them into my own question,
”How do we make sure that we are part of the solution in everyone being treated fairly, regardless of the color of their skin.” The two youngest kind of zoned out without a response, expectedly. But they were listening.
”We just make sure everyone is included when we play football on the playground?” My son has a start, and I’m not much beyond him.
What do we do. What would Martin Luther King Jr. say today if he walked into my home, went to the places I went, and attended my children’s school? Surely he would be proud of how far we have all come, but there is still a sense of repression and division.
I don’t have the answers! This is open for discussion and learning. Don’t write me off as a white woman wanting to simply make a difference. I want to play my part well among all races.
Here are some tips for a start:
• Start a conversation: Even if your kids zone, I think we need to shift from “Don’t see color, just avoid it” to “See the color. Be the change.”
•There are some great books written to help guide us! When God Made You and Let It Shine are two good ones to start as a family with young kids! The Chattanooga Library has shelves full of titles, and they are ready to help you and your child according to age.
•Let your kids choose their dolls. This might seem silly, but I have seen Moms steer their kids to a white doll that “looks like them”. Now, this is not a conscious behavior to say “This one is better.” but it is…. Let your daughter choose the one she wants! My youngest will always choose the Asian doll. Her older sister, the “tan one”. Pretend play should be as colorful as you expect their world to be!
First of all, Ted Gocke from Chattanooga’s J103 radio station invited me to feature weekly on the morning show! More about how that’s humbling in this season of finding my voice and choking out fear. God’s timing is always right on time!
Secondly, he asked me if I had any topic ideas. The main theme is “A Mom’s Best Guess”, taking a hot topic from the week and giving my two cents + help on it. I opened my mouth and inserted my foot then said “SURE I do!” Then we recorded three bits as tests. He liked them so much, they got scheduled for the first three weeks! Wow! Before I went into the station I prayed like a mad woman for the Lord to just let my words be honest and true. No fluff or exaggeration.
The first topic that came to mind was Martin Luther King Jr. day and how some Mom’s were intentionally embracing the holiday, not just making it another day off from school. Thus, what is heard by thousands on the radio this morning will be my two cents worth of raising my white kids to see color.
I pray this space here on A Mom’s Best Guess, and my voice on the radio lends a building block to some firm foundations in your life!