Let’s Talk About Race

Tuesday morning as we were getting ready to leave the house for work and school, Johanna in her chatter stated that she is black because her skin is brown and that there are white people. In my moment of trying not to freak the heck out, I brought the conversation back to color and said that there are plenty of beautiful colors in the world, and started to ask her the color of “things” in the room.

Then I exhaled fire.

How did my child know about race? That may seem like a silly question to some, but let me tell you about Johanna. She is what I like to call a young 3. By that I mean while some 3 year old girls are taking pictures posing with their hands on their hips, or imagination as my mom liked to call it, Johanna is still just holding still and saying “cheeeese!”. And I love it. She doesn’t act grown, although she is just as assertive as other little girls. She doesn’t point out that someone else looks different. She hasn’t made that connection outloud yet.

I am not running away from the subject of race. I know we will have to discuss this topic eventually. I get it. I know this. This is not why I am upset.

I am upset because Johanna said she learned about white and black at school, which means they touched on race. Can I remind you again that she is 3? In what context was race being discussed? And why didn’t we know about this as her parents? Transparency is my issue with this. If you do not have preschool age children, perhaps you remember, or you have heard from a friend with a 3 year old that at this age parents are very involved in the curriculum. We usually always know what is being taught. Usually when I talk to Johanna about her day it isn’t a new conversation for me. I already know that this week they are going over the number 17 and the letter S. I know that from the bible they are studying about zachariah and of course, Jesus. I could go on and on. So the fact that we as the parents weren’t alerted to the fact that in some way they were going to discuss race gave me pause.

I expected them to talk about color. I can deal with color. Johanna can deal with color. Oddly enough it was last month during black history month that they lightly and briefly touched on race, but it didn’t come back to Johanna’s memory until this week. That whole time I was telling her that MLK was brown and she never said anything about it. At the daycare johanna was in last year they discussed different cultures, religions, and holidays. We were alerted of it and told what day they would be discussing what, and who was going to come in to talk about it. We were well armed and prepared.

And there is my whole issue with this. I wasn’t allowed to be armed and prepared. No, I don’t want to discuss race with Johanna right now because I know my child and I know she’s not ready for that discussion. However, if I knew it were going to be discussed I would’ve armed myself with with information for her and found a way to talk to her about it at her tender age. Trust me, I’m already arming myself for the sex talk, and I’ve even began to arm myself for the colorism talk, the drugs talk, the alcohol talk, the same sex relationship talk, etc. The race talk I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted to say. I was waiting for cues from her to see what she was able to digest.

I’m good with the school again – sort of. This is not my dream school for Johanna, but I know that she at least has one teacher that adores her, and she’s getting a good, Christian education, which I love! So for now I will deal. And even though they knew my name before, they really know it now. Mr. Johanna (what the kids call him, ha!) and I are not passive when it comes to our daughters education. I need for them to be aware of that and respond accordingly.

Have you had the race talk with your child? What do you think is the appropriate age to have the race (not color, but race) discussion with your children? How about the racism talk? Slavery? Oy, it all gets so complicated so fast!

 

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Jem is my name, No one else is the same!

Who remembers this cartoon?

I’m tempted to say it is my very favorite cartoon from my childhood. You couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t Jem, well, the chocolate version. She was so super cool and since I was a lover of music, she was EVERYTHING at that time. I still sing in the mirror imagining I have pink rockstar hair and jazzy clothing (minus the shoulder pads because seriously, NO ONE looks good in shoulder pads, not even Miss Rhianna). Recently I was shopping for some accessories and found some lightening bolt earrings that I loved. I showed them to a friend and she responded ok Jem lol. Hilarious that 20 something years later Jem is still influencing my style.

I can’t wait to share Jem with Johanna! What’s your favorite childhood cartoon? Do you think your child(ren) will love it as much as you did?

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A Motherless Child

In the last couple of weeks I have learned of 3 people that have lost a parent. Two friends from high school that each lost their moms and one twitter friend whose father went off in peace this morning. It’s a club I hate for anyone to be in. Immediately when I hear of the loss of a parent I feel it way deep down in my belly. So much so that at times it makes my knees buckle. I know what it’s like to suddenly feel lost, have your world thrown off it’s axis. To feel like you aren’t anchored anymore. To know that there is now a hole inside of you that no one else can ever feel. Your parent, your friend, your history, your comfort, gone. Just like that.

I always say the real test of your strength, to see just how much of a warrior you are, just how badass, comes when you’ve lost a parent or if you have the unfortunate experience of losing a child. It changes you and challenges you in a way you never thought possible.

Losing a mother breaks you down so that you search for the air, the strength, to surge back up to the surface just to make it through another day. Everything else in life seems so petty. You can no longer accept the level of bs you once did. The grace in the struggle is that it is the lessons of the mother that give you that strength to push through. It’s knowing that if God allowed her to see your suffering it would break her heart into a thousand pieces. She would not want misery for you, ever. It’s remembering the lessons she taught you like not to lean on your own understanding, trust God, pray without ceasing, the joy of the Lord IS your strength, and in all things give thanks. It’s remembering how she dealt with her own mother’s death with grace and dignity, even as she fell apart.

To my two forever friends, April and Kim, I understand. I understand the journey. I pray for your strength everyday. I pray that the joy of the Lord overwhelms your life. And I pray that when you find yourself wailing in the corner during your healing process that you let it all out, but don’t stay in that space too long. Don’t give the devil the window of opportunity to turn your grief into depression. I love you and I’m here if you need anything, even if you just need someone to cry with. And I won’t promise that a year from now things will be better. I do promise that if you hold on to your faith and activate it, the crying spells become less frequent and you’re able to get through each day, one at a time.

To my twitter pal @efloraross, I’ve watched your journey. You’ve gone through so much in the last few months and your strength and vulnerability have given me strength. I was so sad to see how you had to watch your dad’s demise and experience what you did, but I am so happy that your dad is finally at peace now. I’m praying that you find peace as well. God bless you luv.

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