I am the white mother of a bi-racial (my husband is Chinese-American) son. While watching, what feels like a reckoning on my computer screen, I think about my responsibility to him.
I have never thought of myself as racist. I know and respect people of different races and socio-economic backgrounds. And I have never thought of a person as less-than because of their race. But that doesn’t make me anti-racist, that makes me at the least, not an asshole.
Racism is a system. I am trying to learn more. I have started by reading How to be Less Stupid About Race by Crystal M. Fleming. I’m only on chapter two, but one of the things I have learned is that the current racial system was designed by my white forefathers for the betterment of me, and the detriment of black and brown people. I know that I can never truly understand what systemic racism feels like because for systemic racism to work it has to be hidden away from white people.
White people know that individual racism is bad. Calling a black person the “N-word” is bad. And for some reason, we are raised to believe that other people are racist.
My son will never have to face the systemic violence the black community faces. However, he will have to deal with racism. He will have to deal with systemic racism that will assume that he will become a specific type of person. He may have to deal with violence because of his race.
I have to do better for my son. I have to know more and be ready for the first time someone calls him a racial slur. I have to have a better answer for him other than, “that kid’s an asshole.” My husband, of course, will be there to help teach me, but it’s my job to learn as well. It is my job to teach my son to be an anti-racist man when he is grown. Luckily he will be two this month, so I have a little time to learn, but not much.