I originally posted this via Facebook on July 8th, the morning after the shootings in Dallas Texas.
This morning while watching the news coverage on the shootings that took place in Dallas overnight, my seven year old was paying extra attention to what was being said and his response was; “we should be scared of them because we are white, and he said he wants to kill white people.”
The thoughts of a seven year old are relatively pure and the fact that based on news coverage, this sense of “us verse them” was what he took from it, is very telling to me. We then spent a great deal of time discussing the realities of the world in which we live and they are growing up in.
I asked Charlie if he knew the reason why him and his brother have to practice lock down drills in school on a regular basis. I explained to him that they are the result of a white male entering an elementary school with a semi automatic weapon who then unloaded on the unprepared children and staff. One of many examples that shows that shootings are indeed not singularly perpetrated by the black community on white people.
We discussed how the black community is marginalized and how being born black and male in this country means that you start out with a sizable deficit. That you are perceived and expected to be and act in a generalized negative way in which you will fight your whole life or succumb to.
We discussed how the media aids in perpetrating this racism. How differently white perpetrators are presented from black perpetrators in news coverage. How they want to individualize all of these incidents rather than treating them as an epidemic to be addressed as a whole and how desensitizing it is to constantly see and hear of another black man shot by police in the street or mass shooting taking place.
We discussed the NRA and their chokehold on the government combined with their concern for profit margins over lives which allows them the ability to block gun control and any change in laws which perhaps could help slow down the occurrence of all of these shootings.
We also discussed something that I frequently remind my boys of; the fact that they were born white, male and middle class (all be it a dyeing middle class), and how that gives them automatic privilege in our society. We discussed how this privilege can be used to benefit society. How this isn’t an “us verse them” game of life but how we are all the same on the inside. We all bleed red regardless of the tone of our skin. I hope that by them understanding this that we can be a part of growing a generation of children who can ultimately affect positive change as open minded adults.
But in the meantime today is another day that I worry for them and for all of us but I still hope for the future.