Up until today, I was mad at God. My son was born extra light-skinned with wash-and-go straight/curly hair. I will call it “white” hair, easier to manage hair, low-maintenance hair. My daughter did not enter the world with such luxuries. If I do not do anything with her hair, everyone knows it. I have had to play with products and styles. In a word, her hair is a process! Her hair highlights the blend of her ethnicities. When you look at her, you can immediately tell that she is neither black nor white but instead black AND white. When you look at my son, you can make no such decision. Without me next to him, and him calling me mom, you have no idea that he is a blend of anything. He’s “beautifully attractive” and “racially ambiguous” as the tampon commercial so thoughtfully pointed out. Do not mistake me. My daughter can hold her own where cuteness is concerned.
Yet, up until today, I wanted to save her from the up and down world of hair – the natural vs. relaxed hair battle, the weave vs. no-weave world.
Then the police killed another black male. And selfishly, I thought to myself. Thank God that when my son is by himself in a car, or a store, or a parking lot, the police will not know he is black.
Sad, isn’t it? Sad but true.
I tend to stay away from conversations about race. I have ZERO desire to hear anyone point out to me that since I married a white man and have light skinned children that I cannot partake in the conversation. The explosiveness of my personality would not meet any versions of that statement kindly. And today I thought, it is for precisely that reason that I should speak.
I come from a family of men who like fitness. I can speak for my 60-something, 6’2″ father who exercises for fun in his retirement. I can speak for my 60-something uncle who has been in shape for as long as I have been living. Are they targets? Could they speak with the wrong tone to the wrong officer at the wrong time? I can speak for my cousins – all “huge” as my husband so eloquently pointed out when speaking about their physical fitness physique. I can speak for my nephew – 6’3″ at 14 years old. 9th grade and the size of a grown man. What happens when he walks to get groceries for my sister to make dinner, and the police stop him or a normal citizen follows him or someone is scared because they are intimidated? He enjoys traveling, cooking, eating good food, and long bouts of video gaming.
But you cannot tell that just by looking at him.
My favorite color is red.
During training one year, we had an activity. Everyone in the room wrote down something they accomplished, somewhere they travelled, something that made them ordinarily extraordinary. The guides then picked up all of the sheets, and began to read them one by one. If the sheet pertained to you, you stood up and explained. I wrote that I was a member of a national championship winning team. Four others stood up with me. At that moment, I understood. The company wanted us to see that it is not what makes us different that binds us – but what makes us the same.
I would venture to say that some of you reading this also share my love of red.
Some of us are scared for ourselves, or our children, or brothers, or dads, or uncles, or cousins, or nephews, or best friends, or spouses.
Some of us are scared to speak because of the criticism they will receive for having something to say on a battle they may or may not be fighting personally.
So I am here to speak for me. I am here to say that society has taken a million steps forward and backwards all at the same time. I live in a time where I can marry my white husband and be scared for my black family all at the same time.
And I am outraged. I am furious at all of those who turn a blind eye because they are not targets and believe as a result that this is not their battle. I am also furious at all of those who crucify “non-Blacks” for speaking out against police killings.
The reality is that for any change to take place, it will take all of us.
black AND white. Neither of them are skin colors. Everyone falls somewhere in-between, and no one, not one of us had any say so in the matter.
And only when all of those shades of brown come together can society heal from massive injustices.
Find what makes you the same. Find others who share your love for red. Or neon pink, or turquoise, or army green, or burnt orange, or purple, or gold. Find someone who loves video games, or travel, or good food, or fitness.
In a world consumed in black AND white, find another red.