Racism is not a joke

When my son was in 5th grade, the class performed a play at school. What started out as a cute idea, spiraled into me being horrified. I sent an email to school administration regarding what I felt was culturally inappropriate and insensitive. I never received a response. 

racism

My younger son graduates from that school as my older son is in high school. The first semester of 9th grade PE class, my son was introduced to the square dancing unit that was 6 weeks long. Upon doing some research on the topic, my son found out that square dancing has roots in white supremacy. He sends a “Tip 203” (school complaint reporting system) to the district. Some school official calls him down to the office to discuss what he had reported. My son explained his findings and said he felt it would be more appropriate to diversify the unit with other cultures dancing. They basically patted his head and sent him along his way. 

Look over any materials used in public education and you are going to find very Eurocentric, white/colonizer point of views on history. Kids are not taught that this -white view- is the right way but it’s not paired with ENOUGH of the other point of view for balance. Couple that with the cultural insensitivity we see IN ACTION through curriculum and you’re going to end up with what’s happening not only at Naperville Central, but also across Illinois

The issue isn’t just in our public schools, the colonizer view is so ingrained in our society that it even presents itself at our national parks. 

NP

Something tells me that the Coahuiltecans might have a different view on this. I took this picture found at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park this year, 2019. 

Instead of seeing people trying to educate themselves on these topics, I often hear

“Slavery was so long ago, people should just get over it and move on”

Not so fast on that. Science is finding that trauma may be passed down through changes in DNA. That means that slave -from so long ago- that had a horrific life may now have ancestors living in our 20th century carrying this trauma as well as all the other trauma’s that’s held in their lineage. 

And how do we -mostly- white people treat this minority and vulnerable populations? With more insults, assaults, bad jokes, and voting into positions of power those who do not have their best interests at the forefront. 

Yes, Naperville has racism, the United States of America has racism, I am racist and filled with implicit bias that I work on daily. 

Admitting it is the first step. Knowing is not a weakness, it’s a strength because once you know where to start to change, you can. 

There are fortunately many things you can do to start.

Find those minority voices in your community, listen to them, and most importantly ACT with their interests in mind. Read books from other point of views than the white Euro one. Visit museums that are run by those it represents. 

Teach your kids it’s not good enough to not be racist. They must call out racism around them by also calling out friends who say racist sayings, jokes, and stories. Teach them to stand up to anyone no matter what- even if they’re in a position of power. Especially if they’re in a position of power supporting racism practices. 

When people of color ask for support. Act on that. 

And whatever you do, don’t stop the fight. 

One moment in a lifetime.

One kid is ranting around the house having to do math homework that is seemingly “useless” in life since we all live with portable calculators by our sides. On one hand, I feel sympathy for him and understand his views. The other hand says “just do your homework, please. We’ve all had to learn how to add decimals at one point.”  

After some stomps and sighs, he ends up in our room with a more interesting (to him) topic, Spanish. Although I attempted to leer him away from foreign language in Jr High, it is now my favorite new tradition we’ve started, the nightly going over his new vocabulary. His father and I have a long history with Spanish. We met in Spanish class. He asked me on our first date in Spanish class. We became fluent in the language and traveled the Mexican inner countryside climbing Mayan ruins together. And now our son is learning the language and culture we have adored for so long.

He starts right up with a new phrase “Como se dice en Espanol…..”

Another burst into our room “Hey, can you look at this to see if I’m reading this right?” our older son says walking in with a paper and notebook. Even though my husband graduated with an English degree from a very prestigious school, I’ve become the go to for all things English. 

“Le…van…tate….porfavor” I hear next to me with breaks in words that makes it a little harder to translate.  Husband asks him to spell it and then says “stand up please.”

I read the article that older son brought me and after 2 paragraphs I declare that it’s terribly written. “RIGHT? That’s what I was thinking!” he says. 

He says it’s a pre-assessment and I ask him if the assessment is to actually determine if he can figure out it’s a garbage article in 2 paragraphs or not. 

I continue reading the article.

“Sie n ta te……” 

I finish the pre assessment discussion and the next door Spanish session ends around the same time. Younger son then asks older son if he remembers learning about (insert some culture here) in 7th grade social science. They share a passion for history and social science. It’s just about the only thing they share in interests. 

Older son says he can’t recall but they sound like communists. Laughter fills the room. 

I take in both our kids coming to us for guidance, the support my husband I willingly give them, the love, laughter and mutual respect they have for each other.

The moment hits me and I know I will hold it for many years to come. 

Time Paused.

I let all the emotions live individually and at the same time. 

You often hear “enjoy those moments” before your kids grow up which often feels like a threat to a parent who just survived the summer 24/7 with their children…..but for that moment in time, I really did. I took that moment in so hard and saw our life and family for what it has become. Incredible.

Raising boys who feel empowered.

Is there anything more uncomfortable than seeing someone who identifies as male being emotionally vulnerable?

Think about it. If you see a younger boy, a teenager or a man who is being emotionally vulnerable, what is your reaction?

Do you think “That boy,kid,man needs to suck it up” “Man up” “Stop crying and be a man”

Or even worse yet “I didn’t know they felt that way.”

If you ever ask that last question maybe pause and ask what steps you could have taken to find out how they felt about something. Don’t place your generic and average societal views on a situation that is unique to that person and their emotions.

I’ve been raising 2 sons for 15 years and unfortunately I’ve seen all the above in real time and furthermore have experienced societal judgement in letting my own sons have emotions to which I reply every time:

Oh Hell No.

I have a highly emotionally charged family. Two of us emotion *outward* and 2 of us emotion *inward.* If you’re personally familiar with my family at all, it’s not going to be hard to distinguish who is who in that scenario.

Regardless of how we as a family experience our emotions, they are all valid and important to acknowledge and most importantly, SUPPORT.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been made to feel “less than” as a parent for letting my kids MY SONS have emotions and then take steps to support them in society while they are still young and without authority.

I see conflicting views of how we should raise our boys. I hear “Don’t raise the next mass killer” next to “That boy needs to suck it up and move on.”

Honestly, I’m tired of it.

And more so, I don’t care how you’re going to judge me for supporting my sons to have emotions in any way they feel they can. I am their support. I am their ear, their advocate, and their voice until they are listened to by society that deems them “not ready yet” for their own self advocacy.

I am raising my kid to have emotions and a voice. Are you ready to listen.