Saturday, July 13, 2013

a big, ugly green monster

I've avoided writing on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman skirmish for awhile. I don't want to be political and I don't want to get into the case. But, regardless of what people "say"- this case has become about race. As a society, we've done that. We have created an ugly vicious monster. And it hurts me. It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that so many young men and women are dying in Chicago due to gang violence. It breaks my heart that this is happening in my area. It breaks my heart that some lives aren't valued- simply because of the color of their skin. It breaks my heart that one case overshadows the thousands that are killed. This isn't about self defense- that's a viable argument in my book. I wasn't there that night. I don't know what went down. But, I do know that too many people are dying and too few people are caring.

So, I'd like to share this essay that I wrote in high school about what racism means to me.

A mother is shopping in a grocery store with her five year old son. As they near the produce aisle you are shopping in, the child whispers, “Mommy? Is that one of the Mexicans that you were talking to Daddy about last night? The ones that need to go swim back over the river and quit taking over our government?” The mother looks at you, and then smiles at the child. They go on their way to the next isle without any apology.

Two Kindergartners are playing together, when a classmate comes up to them. He accuses the two children of being “boyfriend and girlfriend”. The little girl is fine with it, as is her “boyfriend”. Neither find anything wrong with the statement. They are friends and opposite genders. The classmate then tells the little girl, “He can’t be your boyfriend. He’s black and you’re white.” The little girl responds, “He’s not black. He’s brown. And I’m not white. I’m PINK!” The “couple” join hands and walk off.

Such blatant examples of racism are not unheard of in today’s society. All you have to do is walk into a grocery store to hear people talk unkindly about someone of another race. It has gotten so horrible that you hear children talking about each other in school. Racism is the belief that race determines a person’s traits and capacities, and that racial differences make one race better than another. But, racism is not limited to just the minorities. I have an adopted, younger brother who is biracial. Even though I am a “rich little white girl” who should not have any issues with racism, I deal with it frequently through him. Racism causes people to act in ways they normally would not. Even though he is only six years old, people still look at him like he is worthless. Whether it’s seeing people stare and talk about him, or knowing what they think of me, or fearing for his future, it can get rough. Racism is when people mistreat my family because of my little brother’s skin color.

It happens quite frequently. My family walks into a restaurant. As we walk to the table, heads turn. What is that little brown boy doing with that white family? People start speaking in hushed voices about the new development. The obvious fact that he was adopted is pushed to the back of their minds and they immediately think that there is something strange about my family. My parents must be divorced or one had an affair. He could never have been adopted. That would be impossible.

It makes me feel sorry for my brother because kids can be cruel. Children are not afraid to voice their emotions. They will look at him and ask their parents, “Why isn’t he white like the rest of his family?” Their parents rush to shush them, but the damage has already been done. Because the parents inadvertently push their views that one race is superior, by finding their children playmates that look like them and send them to homogenous preschools and private schools, they do not know diversity. They only know the world that they have been shown, and differences are looked down upon.

My little brother is my “run to Wal Mart” buddy. He’s the only one in my family who really enjoys going to Wal Mart with me, so we make runs to get things for my parents together. I hold his hand as he crosses the street, tell him not to run off in the store, and buy him dinner at McDonald’s on the rare occasion. It’s nothing a good big sister would not do. But, sometimes people like to misinterpret my actions into being motherly. As there are twelve years between us, it would be possible. We do not look anything like each other, so obviously I must be his mother. Do not pay any attention to my National Honor Society t-shirt and cross around my neck. Sometimes the stares are almost too much. I feel like I must have done something wrong, slipped up somewhere. But, all I am trying to do is be the best big sister I can be.  
Or on the flip side, I did not do anything wrong. People are smart enough to realize that I was not a pregnant twelve year old; it was clearly my parents. They must be divorced. My mother must have had an affair with an inner city gangster. I am a symbol of strength, hope, perseverance. They give me looks of pity and sympathy. If these people would think for a moment, they would see how ridiculous and nosey they are being. They have no business imagining my life in every intricate detail. I do not want their sympathy. I am his big sister; that is all.

As his big sister, I worry about him. 

Racism means so much to this “little white girl” who should not have to deal with racism. I should be the one to be doing the judging. But, my parents raised me better than that. Racism hurts everyone involved. Because it hurts my little brother, it hurts me. Racism may be the thing that takes my little brother from me. Racism, the belief that you are superior to someone else because of what color your skin is, has affected my life deeply and changed it forever. Skin color does not matter in the grand scheme of things. When we go see Jesus, do you think he is going to black or white? Do you think he is going to care what color your skin is? Do you think he will judge you on that? Do you think skin color will stop people from getting into heaven?

Racism is a big, ugly, green monster that is trying to take my little brother from me.

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