I Don’t Know What to Say

Needless to say, Hope and I have been having some tough conversations about being Black lately. Last week I allowed her to stay up with me to watch the announcement about how the grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson in the murder shooting of Michael Brown. My daughter sat on the couch next to me, watched me sob throughout the totally unsurprising announcement. She watched me curiously while I sat slack jawed as the prosecutor went on to characterize Brown is a monster of sorts deserving of a kill shot despite having no weapon of his own, other than his large commanding size and dark skin.

I saw Hope clench her fists and get angry.

I wanted to write something about it last week but really, all I could think about was the words used by my dear pal, ComplicatedMelodi: “Man…I’m trying to raise a kid here.” I got nothing else.

I’m trying to raise a Black kid in this world.

And I’m trying to do it while there is an apparent need for a hashtag called #blacklivesmatter.

Sigh. That’s effed up.

And there was another grand jury failure this week in the case of the illegal, chokehold killing of Eric Garner, a killing that was predicated on an approach of Garner on the suspicion of selling loosies.

Yeah, loose cigarettes. Somebody got choked to death because he was suspected of selling individual cigarettes on a corner in New York.

Sigh.

So, when Hope heard about Garner all the questions started again. Damn, we just went through some of this ish last week.

Hope likes data; I love that about her since I’m also a researcher.

She’s come to a number of conclusions that are hard to refute.

  • Racism is alive and well.
  • Sometimes there is no justice and no peace.
  • That Black lives matter less. Oh, they still matter, but it’s clear that they matter less than other lives.

We were in the car last night, listening to coverage of protests and snippets of think pieces. One discussed the need for more police officers of color. Hope practically yelled, “Sure hire them, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get justice.”

She’s right.

I’ve long said that the realization that the world can be so unjust is like eating from the tree of good and evil. The knowledge is essential to survival, but is devastating—especially when you might be in a category that gets the justice short stick. Sometimes you wish you just didn’t know how effed up things really are.

I tell Hope that all White people are not bad, they aren’t racist. We talk about the various people in our lives who are good people; she needs that evidence. We talk about how to move through the world having hope for change, all while I’m praying that our other forms of social privilege are enough to compensate for the lack of privilege, or apparent equity, based on race.

And that, my friends, makes for some effed up prayers.

“Lord, please let us be middle class enough to not get shot going to get Slurpees down the street in our neighborhood.”

“Lord, please let this hard earned Dr open closed doors for Hope, who is delightfully gritty in ways that might make her seem defiant to authority figures, placing her very life in jeopardy.”

And we talk about how to act during traffic stops, how to act at the school bus stop, how to act at the 7-11 or bodega, how to act at the bowling alley we frequent, how to act if you get singled out in your group of friends when you’re the only Black kid…the list goes on and on about how to act so as to be perceived as somehow non-threatening and accepted to be wherever it is you happen to be.

This is exhausting. It’s also messed up.

And it gives me little time to really think about just how devastated I am by the injustice I see. It gives me little time to ponder some of the ish I read when I happen to scroll down the page of an article and dare to read comments that are laden with racist filth. It gives me little time to think about how to respond other than we can do better, we should be doing better, we’re capable of doing better, so why aren’t we doing better?

I listen to my elders and hear them note how some things have changed and how some things haven’t. Lately it’s more of the latter. And I wonder what the hell to say to that.

It’s so painful and so sad, and I just have no more words.

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About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted tween a few years ago, and this blog chronicles our journey. Feel free to contact me at adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©www.AdoptiveBlackMom.com, 2013-2016. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

10 responses to “I Don’t Know What to Say

  • My Perfect Breakdown

    This piece really touched me. We are in the process of selecting boxes in the adoption process, one of which is the races we are willing to accept. Mr. MPB and I fully believe in equal opportunity for everyone regardless of race, gender, age, etc. and so thinking about the race selection has been a very interesting process because we simply have never experienced judgement based on the colour of our skin as we are two very white people, in a very white community of a predominantly white city. So we sit here, staring at boxes, wondering what we are best able to care for, and more importantly what our decision will mean for the child. If we choose to select the various race options, and we clearly have no ability to relate to this side of there life, is it best for the child to be brought up with us? While Mr. MPB and I can handle rude and unacceptable comments, we are adults, the child is not. So, are we just setting them up for false expectations by being raised by white parents? And can love inside our home, conquer the judgmental world outside of our home?
    I don’t have the answers, truthfully we are really struggling with this particularly in light of the recent events in the USA. Honestly, I really appreciated reading your perspective on all of this. Thank you.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Oy, I wish I had advice for you. 🙂 I don’t know if you’ve seen my post called Adopting While Black–you might check it out. I think there’s another one specifically on Ferguson as well from a couple of months ago.

      I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here, but I guess there are just easier answers. I have no idea what transracial adoption means for a family, but I can imagine that that there are similar challenges and ones that are unique to what Hope and I experience. Adoption is beautiful but tough because you need to make sure you’ve got a village who will stand with you and protect you and your kids. Not everyone’s village is on the same page which increases the tough factor.

      Whatever your decision, you’ll make the one that’s best for you and Mr. MPB. Love does conquer all, but that doesn’t mean the fight is always easy. All the best, I can’t wait to hear about your next steps.

      • My Perfect Breakdown

        Thank you. I’ll be sure to check out your other posts.
        I definitely don’t expect you, or anyone else for that matter to have the solution to our “problem”, but I am thankful for your thoughts.
        In the next week or so we have to make our decisions, so this one is still top of mind.

  • Belladonna Took

    I wish I knew what to say – or, more to the point, what to do. I grew up in apartheid South Africa, and although I wasn’t naive enough to expect no racism here in the Land of the Free (hah!) … I didn’t expect this. I’m sickened, saddened and scared. This shit all looks way too familiar.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      I wish I knew what to do too. It’s shocking and further saddening to hear you make the parallel. I love my country, but we often sit in judgement of other countries when we clearly have big messes at home–glass houses and all of that. 😦 These are challenging times and what makes it scary is that we’ve been saying that for more than 400 years. smh.

  • AdoptiveNYMomma

    I am truly sorry that you have to teach about such injustice. I can’t even imagine the pain you feel and the struggle you have teaching your beautiful child about racial profiling, stereotyping and racism. I will send prayers your way so that you have the words you need and so Hope can learn how to navigate these treacherous waters.

  • Valarie J

    Don’t forget about the 12-year-old boy here in Ohio, shot for carrying a toy gun. Of course, he shouldn’t be waving a toy gun (with the safety indicator removed) in public, but he is/was TWELVE. Please tell Hope not to ever brandish a weapon or even an imitator of one, and if the police approach her, drop everything and comply immediately. I can tell from your posts that her sense of justice could be ignited and she may want to argue – “But I wasn’t doing anything wrong! I was trying to stop the fight! This isn’t fair!” – and she will be right, and the police will be wrong, but they may shoot her anyway and it’s no good being right and dead : (

    I am so sorry that this is a conversation we must have with our black children. If I end up adopting black boys (still a foster parent so I don’t know which kids will be my “forever” kids), I dread what I will have to discuss with them as they approach puberty. The fact is that some people will view them as a threat, whether they are armed or not.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Oy, I couldn’t even go there. Days passed before I could watch that heinous video of that child being killed as soon as the car pulled up.

      Bless Hope, I already hear “This isn’t fair!” a lot and her view of police is very poor given various events through out her life. The “survival training” makes me so sad, and yet it is essential. Thanks for the read and message.

  • It’s Exhausting | AdoptiveBlackMom

    […] And frankly so do I, but like I”ve said before, I don’t know what to say. […]

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