WE WILL STILL BE ___________

We’ve all read the op-ed pieces, or heard people say it on television, the radio, or face-to-face with someone we know: “Come on, give the man a chance.” But if you think about it – and it doesn’t take too much brainpower – all of those optimists, God bless them, are white. And, with the exception of Kellyanne Conway,  they will still be white men in the morning.

For the rest of us, well, we will still be black. The same color as the man who our new president has dedicated years now to discrediting – first with the whole birther nonsense and then, as a candidate, the inflammable messages of “Take America Back” and “Make America Great Again.” Back from whom? How bad was it? Appealing to even the most latent of racists was far too easy. Those same pundits can deny it all they want, but people of color know. We can see and feel the hate.

We will still be immigrants. The same people who founded this country and have arrived in wave after wave to conceive new futures for ourselves and our families. We’re still coming, but the waves are somewhat darker these days. Trump voters got downright ecstatic about the promise of a wall to keep those darn Mexicans out. They’d build one along the country’s entire perimeter if they thought it would work.

We will still be Latinos. You know, those darn Mexicans, because really, if we speak Spanish, we couldn’t possibly belong here. People who have been here for generations have suddenly become regarded as illegals. Hispanics come in handy to do menial tasks, but shouldn’t we all  go back to wherever we came from and stop taking jobs from real Americans?

We will still be Muslims. The same people who Candidate Trump first wanted to prevent from entering  the US and then wanted to expel. Called to action, his supporters now think it’s OK to attack us, wherever we are in this country we all call home.

We will still be women. Still struggling for equality and never  quite making the mark. Apparently, far too many of us just don’t care. 53% of white women  voted for a man who brags about sexually assaulting women. Seriously.  Our right to vote isn’t going anywhere (or is it?), but our rights to our bodies is in for an assault. Fasten your seatbelts ladies!

We will still be LGBTQ. A few giants steps forward and… Well, I just don’t know. Hate is in the air.

I think you get my drift. But never forget that we will also still be Americans.

Here’s a little game to play every time our new president makes some kind of proclamation about what he’s going to do: add the words “if you’re a straight white Christian man” to the end of it. That’s what we have here. God help us.

The Challenge of Hate: Diversity Mom, MLK 2017 Edition

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I was little, my parents taught me to never hate another person. “To hate someone,” they told me, “is to wish that they were dead.” Believe it or not, then, I grew up saying that I hated raisins, ketchup, and maybe “Lord of the Flies,” but never, not even as a teenager, did I dare to utter or even think to utter, “I hate her” or “I hate him.” I’ve tried to pass that on to my daughter.

In these past few months, though, I’m been having a little problem: not many days are passing by when I don’t want to say out loud, “I hate him,” or, to broaden the net, “I hate those people.” And I’m terribly uncomfortable with that.

But then it occurs to me that the reason that I hate these people is that they hate me: as a woman, as a woman of color, as an educated woman of color. It doesn’t make it any better, but it does feel better coming from a defensive position. They hate me, so I hate them. So there.

Hate keeps me up at night. Probably more than my reluctance to hate others, I don’t want to be hated. It’s all part of the same lesson: if one is kind, one will receive kindness. I’ve based my life on that. Unfortunately, though, we all know that it doesn’t work that way. That said, we can still stick to kindness as a moral, innate imperative. I know that I do. The alternative is a truly hateful heart. I hope and pray that I haven’t gotten there yet, because I can attest that it is indeed “too great a burden.” Dear Lord, help me to once again “stick with love.” Thank you, Dr. King, for reminding us.

On Invisibility

With an inauguration looming, I went back to an entry from eight years ago almost to the day, following the inauguration of Barack Obama. It sprang from the poem by Elizabeth Alexander.

“Each day we go about our business,” she read during the ceremony, “walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.”

Or, I’d like to add, not doing anything…at all…ever.

Not long before the inauguration, I had spoken with an African American mother who was in the process of applying to schools for her daughter. Having already spent two years at an all-white preschool, a well-known bastion of Waspiness, she wondered if she was up for more of the same going forward. Her daughter had thrived there, she told me, but “of course there are parents who won’t speak. That’s the way they are, and that’s fine.”

No, it’s not fine. I had to admit to her that as much as I love my daughter’s school, and most of people in it, there are parents who for years now have not said “Boo!” to me, no matter how many times I have said, “Hello.” For a while, with a couple of the biggest offenders it became a bit of a game to see if I could get them to even look at me, until one day I just gave up and decided not to acknowledge them either. That’s a shame!

Another mother once told me, shortly after her two children started at a private school in New York, “You’re in this weird zone. The parents don’t speak to you, because they think you’re a nanny; and the nannies don’t speak, because they know you’re not one of them.”

Okay, so we know that the Nanny Syndrome has a lot to do with it. But others are just rude, and yes, some people still have a hard time talking to black people. I also think that there’s something else going on in the subconscience of many otherwise decent souls: conditioned to believe that they couldn’t possibly know anyone one who doesn’t look like them, their brains simply filter us out.

I happen to know a lot of people, and as I “go about my business,” I am always on the lookout for one of them. It’s fun – well, most of the time – to run into old friends and colleagues, former classmates, fellow moms, and even people I’ve done jury duty with. Plus, I am terrified of dissing them – well, most of them – by not at least smiling in recognition.

Obama may be leaving the White House, but it’s not too late to speak. Whatever your color, you just never know when you might find a friend. Look up! Catch each other’s eyes!