Will My Whiteness Keep You Safe?

To the one I know now and the one who isn’t here yet:

My sweet babies.

You both are products of love. Your Mommy and Daddy met, became best friends, then learned to love. We created an unbreakable bond and decided to reinforce it with marriage. But before that, we decided to have you, Oliver. We knew you were next, Amelia.

That was part of our privilege. It took many, many years before people like us could get married. Many years of people being beaten, marching, dying. People just wanting to openly love who they love without any repercussions. It’s such a simple desire. A desire that so many people were able to partake of without a second thought. Still, as I said, it took many, many years before people like us could marry. We were and are very lucky to be able to do so.

Now I sit here and watching you play, Oliver. You lean against the couch, playing a game on the iPad, wearing only a diaper. You are definitely a naked baby. Your messy, brown curls crown your head with a bouncing texture like mine. Your muscular back, like your dad’s, arches and bows in anticipation and excitement as you play. You have the most beautiful caramel colored skin from both of us.

When people see you they either comment on your curls or your hair.

“That hair, though!”
“How do you not run your fingers through those curls all day?!”
“I love his hair! Don’t ever cut it!”
“He has the prettiest complexion.”
“Oh, what pretty skin.”

I wonder when that will stop. When will your identifiers no longer be cute? When will your identifiers become something negative? When will people start seeing you as black instead of biracial? Will they? Will having my whiteness be enough to keep your safe? Will having my whiteness allow you to walk down the street safely? Will it help you to get home safely? Will you be able to keep warm in a hoodie? Will you be able to stand outside and play with toy weapons? Will you be able to sell things for a club or team you’re on?

When will everyone stop wanting your hair and your skin color, and start judging you for it? I know you will have it far, FAR easier than most. I know this. I’m selfishly glad for this. It gives me hope that you will end up with some type of privilege to keep you safe, because that is unfortunately what’s needed nowadays. It’s heartbreaking to know and even worse to admit. But you’re my son and I want you and your soon-to-be sister to be safe. Whatever it takes.

This isn’t a world I want for the both of you. I want to say it’ll change. That we’ll all make it better for you and Amelia. But I can’t promise that. I read somewhere today that nothing has changed, but the presence of smart phones. That’s very true. We thought things were changing, but they haven’t. It’s just easier to capture now. The act. The people. The victims. We can all see it now. We aren’t reading or hearing words, we’re watching and hearing videos. We’re seeing last breaths being taken, family members crying and begging. It’s more real than it has ever been.

And I worry for the both of you. My sweet babies. I want y’all to grow up free from worry. I don’t want to have to teach you how to talk to police officers or how to act around them. I don’t want the lesson for y’all to be different than it is for a white person. I grew up thinking police officers were so cool and so brave. I want you to think that too. I don’t want you to be afraid. I still have hope. It may be a naive hope, but it is there. I’ll never stop hoping and I’ll never stop spreading the word. I will always be an ally for people of color. My heart is absolutely held by people of color. My world. I promise to do whatever I can to keep y’all safe. To keep others safe.

That’s what my whiteness provides. Safety and privilege. It’s my job to use it to protect all of you to the very best of my ability. I’m going to teach y’all how to protect others too.

The work has been started. Depending on how you look at it, who knows when it began, but y’all have a small piece of the world behind you. A great community of people. Together, we can all make a difference. I don’t know how big or small, but a difference will be made.

 

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