Social Distancing Week 12…With Privilege Comes Responsibility

Friday, June 5, 2020…7:17am

The end of week 12. For those doing the math, that is 3 entire months.

For. The. Love.

At about week 2.5 I made an intentional decision to step away from the 24 hour news cycle. It was essential to my mental well being. That all changed this week. With the protests and unrest following the death of George Floyd, the news is once again central to our daily rhythm. It’s still wreaking havoc with my mental well being, but this is not the time for me to seek refuge in what I refer to as my “peace bubble”. This is not the time for personal peace. Not when so many are shattered with pain.

This has been a week of frequent conversations in our home about race and racism, about privilege, about perspective, and about our responsibility to always be actively dismantling our own prejudices (everybody has them). It has been a week where I have read thousands of words and listened to thousands more all in an effort to more fully understand hard truths and find my place in helping to right what has for too long been wrong.

Last Saturday, the man-child told me that a peaceful protest had been planned for the next day near city hall in our town. His information came from a friend on Instagram. “It’s too bad I have virtual Model UN tomorrow. But if I didn’t wold you have taken me to the protest?”

I was relieved to have the valid excuse of his previous commitment to remove that decision from my hands. Would I have taken him otherwise? I don’t honestly know. I have taken both kids to protests and marches in the past (women’s rights, gun control) without a thought about safety. But I have to admit that the first thought that went through my head when the man-child told me about this protest was “Will it remain peaceful? Will it be safe?”

As I’ve played that moment back in my head over the week, I have questioned my own motivation. It seems that my hesitation was partly COVID related and partly fueled by the fear of the protest attracting more agitators than peaceful protestors. But mostly I have realized that I almost never have to stop and ask the question “Will it be safe?” when my kids leave the house. This is not the case for mothers of children of color in general, and for mothers of black son’s specifically. Privilege is the confidence of a white middle-class mother not having to question the safety of her teenage children when they are out in the world. ¬†Privilege is the time and space to listen and learn about racism because I do not experience racism.

With privilege comes responsibility.

One of the gifts of so much time at home and together, has been deep and important conversations with my teenagers. I admit to having defaulted to a “lead by example” sort of approach to race and racism up to this point. But this week we have talked and I hope they have truly heard me name my privilege and the work I need to do to continue to grow toward active anti-racism. Above all else in this life, I want to raise truly good humans. The events of this week have been a reminder that it is my responsibility to be pro-active in helping my kids recognize their own privilege, helping them to understand systemic racism and discrimination, and supporting them in anything they do to be a positive force for change.

Be well my friends. Stay safe. And if you recognize your own privilege in what I’ve said, then please begin to act out of the responsibility that comes with that privilege.

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