…I had no idea what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend.
Sitting in the front row of church this Sunday, I squirmed as Pastor Ed denounced violent acts and racism of any kind. He expressed dismay over “recent acts in Charlottesville,” but I literally had no idea what he was talking about.
What happened? What did I miss? Why doesn’t the Skimm start emailing news on the weekends?
Later I searched online and found a few articles outlining the sequences leading up to a young man driving a car into a crowd of people. I don’t know about you, but I avoided any links to actual video and went straight to the comments, immediately seeing that already further division had begun. There were cries of misunderstanding, anger towards groups as a whole, blame and more blame.
After bathing my brain in angry commentary, I felt racist for not knowing what was going on. I felt racist for not wanting to know. I felt racist for hoping that the media was somehow spinning this. I felt racist for taking so long to say anything.
And the longer I waited to speak up, the more I felt like my silence would be construed as a nod of approval.
So let me speak up.
I’m on edge right now, my friends. This is hitting a nerve that my subconscious has done well to cover up for a long time. But all of this hate and all of this arrogance is actually bringing up memories… of my father. Thankfully I have a husband who has moved this evening along as I’ve hidden in the bathtub, become more and more useless, quieter, more emotional.
Ya’ll know I named my firstborn son after my grandfather – my black grandfather – Pa. Because I have always utterly adored this man, my father so “graciously” granted him verbal exception from his overall opinion of black people. I’ll never forget the day my dad admitted that Pa was a fine enough man, but that if I ever married a black man,”I will disown you.” His words.
As if he owned me in the first place.
He never had any heart to hearts with me about the character of a man. He never prayed with me for my future husband. He never spoke hope into my relationships, encouraging me to find a mate who shared my values and beliefs or who, at the very least, would treat me with kindness.
It was almost as if I could marry the devil himself, so long as he wasn’t black, and my dad would approve.
I remember him mocking Indian people who managed gas stations… and I wondered how he could be so far removed from the racism that surely his own parents encountered as Italian immigrants.
I remember him discouraging the mission trips that shaped me so. He’d have rathered I spend my summers twiddling my thumbs here in the USA than volunteering at an orphanage in El Salvador. Of course his “reasoning” was for the many unfortunate people who need our help right here… but I never saw him walk that walk.
It bums me out, man. My desire to be unlike this man is ever so longstanding, and yet, after recent events, I feel like I’ve been lumped right in there with him just because of my skin tone, and my ignorance, and my silence, and my generally conservative background. …But the video of the car and the crowd was playing at the gym today while I was huddling my kids in for some lunch before a chiropractor appointment. I was ever so relieved that Bennett was fixated on a different TV playing a McDonald’s commericial.
Do you guys know one of the reasons I became so vocal about vaccine choice and awareness? When William Thompson finally admitted to publishing fraudulent data regarding the Measles/Mumps/Rubella CDC study in 2004, Dr. Brian Hooker reanalyized the CDC’s original data (the data that the other four publishing scientists threw out). Dr. Brian Hooker found a statistically significant increase in the risk of autism for children who received the MMR vaccine before 36 months of age, but the increased risk was strongest for African-American males, who were 3.4 times more likely to develop autism when vaccinated with MMR prior to 36 months, compared to matched controls.
Anyhow. What do I know? I’m just a hairstylist, plugging away at mommyhood, quietly fighting for something nobody cares about, while feeling paranoid about being perceived as a racist. So I feel racist for making this about me. But I can guarantee you one thing: I know 100% that if the Brian Spears who hit on me at WalMart in 2003 was the same Brian Spears, but black, I’d still have fallen in love with him. And I suppose my dad would have only found out about his skin tone on our wedding day as that was the first time he met Brian anyway.
Pa marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. And while I miss him dearly, I’m so thankful he’s in heaven, not having to worry about this anymore.
You couldn’t be racist if you tried. Never gonna happen. You can be unable to handle the complexities of politics on the weekend. I read Skimm too but also listen and watch news after news program. I’m 74, have grown-up children and retired a year ago. You have a wonderful life to live and many people who need your attention. Stop beating yourself up. It is amazing how you multitask. You know about Charlottesville now. Soon enough. Please believe me. ❤
Thank you, friend.
I remember the lectures all too well, except for me it wasn’t race, but ethnicity. “We have 50 states. Why can’t you pick a guy from America? Your great grandparents took a boat all the way from Italy to be here. If you marry that Canadian, I disown you.” Blah blah blah. Thank God I don’t see in colors and countries.
For heaven’s sake. Thanks for verifying my memories. Also, I’m pretty sure he would always say we had 51 states, and I’d attempt to correct him on a regular basis.
Oh, and I dumped that football player, Bruce Hess, in High School b/c he was racist. One racist statement from him and I was like, “my grandfather is black and you and I are over.” BOOM. Done.
Sometimes being away from the news is good for your sanity. You a racist? Not a chance….
Ignorance can be bliss! Yet it’s also closely tied with privilege, so round and round I go.
Touched by your words. Sending you love. 🙂
Thank you, Kara.