Stories of Racism

Racial disparities are not due solely to past historical harms that have been erased by federal law.  When I was young, a black family moved in down the street from mine.  They were striving to ensure their children received a good education and were looking to escape the crime and other challenges present in their previous neighborhood.  They became all the talk of our block… ‘What will happen to our house values?’ ‘Would they bring crime?’  Several families actively shunned this family.  Instead of the welcome wagon and housewarming gifts of cookies, they were given silence.  Many families would not let their children play with their kids.  The family moved out after just a handful of months because of the welcome they received.  This was 30 years ago in the twin cities.

My own son had a budding best-friendship with a black child in daycare.  We intentionally tried to choose a daycare that was welcoming to all families.  We found one that had leadership and teachers of color and felt assured our kid would benefit from the cultural diversity of the workers and students.  One day while reading at bedtime he told me he was excited to be invited to a child’s birthday party, but was sad that his friend couldn’t go.  I learned from my three-year old that his friend wasn’t invited because he was black.  Soon afterward he lost his budding best friendship as the family moved to a different care provider.  The racism of one dad sent ripples of racism through that classroom, and traumatized a child and family.  Unfortunately I didn’t know then how to react to the school and did the usual white thing of just going along.  But I did know enough to start having discussions about race and racism with my child.  Black Lives Matter in our household and if we are going to right the wrongs of the past it means adults learn from their mistakes and teach their children better than they have been taught and work against the normalization of racism.