I don’t want to teach my two white children to be colorblind.
I want to teach them to see color, and to see beauty and value.
I want them to see the whiteness of their skin and to know they are privileged because of it. I want them to understand, acknowledge and own their privilege and to care enough to work on giving it away.
I want to not be afraid to talk to the nice woman of color sharing a waiting room chair with me, because I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to tell her what I’m thinking, that her hair looks pretty today, because I’m not sure if my compliments are inappropriate or unwanted. So I think it. I don’t say it.
Instead, my little daughter tells her she likes her dress. It’s exactly the shade of blue my daughter loves. The woman smiles kindly down at my child and talks about the fabric’s pattern with her. My daughter can’t help but reach out and touch the silk. She smiles first at my daughter and then out at me.
My daughter is too young to see the stories hidden behind our skin color, or even to see the stories that are as obvious as my tattoo that she likes to trace with her tiny fingertip. I silently cherish this moment of innocence in my child’s life, because I know it has to eventually leave, if only to witness the world’s reality so we can reshape it.
This concern over my interactions with others outside of my whiteness—my attention to etiquette and also my silent desire to ignore it and act like a simple loving human who wants more than anything to embrace our alikeness—is a self-indulgent concern. Especially after this morning’s news headlines.
Especially after how these headlines are not new.
I don’t have to be afraid for my children because of the color of their skin. I’m left to be potentially in fear of many other things, as everyone is and can be for their kids as they grow and become independent in life, but their skin color isn’t something that I have to think about each day.
I want to think about that.
I want to shout, too—that black lives matter.
I want to feel it weighted in my heartbroken chest; heartbroken for people who are victims of injustice, for people who don’t want to raise our children in a world like this.
I want to write #BlackLivesMatter on my Twitter and on my writer Facebook account. I do and I lose followers. I’m happy to see them gone. But I’m not happy.
I want to do more than share a hashtag.
But I want to shout this grief, this disappointment, this shame, and I don’t know how to because I’m white. My husband is white. My kids are white. And yet we are exactly who needs to be shouting this. We are exactly who needs to believe that “all lives matter” enough to feel passionate about the truth that all lives aren’t being treated equally or with respect. Pretending otherwise is an injustice, too, and a devaluing of these losses. It won’t help stop them either.
So, no, I don’t want to raise kids who are colorblind. I want to raise them to live with their eyes wide open, to all the atrocities, to all the pain, to all the beauty, to all the hope.