I didn’t used to think about racism very much. I didn’t have to.
Then came July 1, 2014. That’s the day my son was born. My little boy, Paul Matthew, is now almost six. He’s a sweet, bright little guy who loves drawing and animals. He was born in New Orleans, he is adopted, and yes, he is black.
And now I have to think about racism. My child’s life depends on it.
At age six, we’ve already had instances of racism. They’re subtle, and I’m sure the people who say these things would claim not to be racist. But racism isn’t always about lighting fires in a white hood. Sometimes it’s more insidious, and less obvious. The number of people who have assumed my son was taken from a bad home would claim not to be racist, but it’s a racist assumption. (My son was not removed from a home because of abuse. His mother, a lovely young woman, chose to put him up for adoption.)
Now, there are protests. People are frustrated with racism; they’ve had enough. I understand and support them. Black people are killed by police and others, and though that’s the thing we’re focusing on right now, it’s not even the most prevalent thing. Racism exists every day, in many subtle ways. I encourage people to speak out against it–“Racism is bad” isn’t all that controversial a stand to take.
I didn’t used to understand. Now, I understand a bit better. I’m raising my son, a kind, good little kid, and I am going to help him grow and and then send him into the world to face a kind of danger that I myself have never known.
I’m afraid for my son’s safety. Just like millions of people are afraid for themselves or their children.
They are only asking to be treated equally, and not to be murdered.
That’s not an unreasonable wish.