I’m Sorry, But This Is What You Get

After hearing about the acquittal of George Zimmerman and reading the emotional firestorm that flooded social media I considered what lessons I would want my kids to learn from this case.  The answer is NOTHING.  I don’t want them to become defeated or make excuses for themselves.  I want them to grow up aware of what’s coming at them, and overcome those obstacles.  The following is a letter I wrote for them with that hope in mind.

Dear Kids,

Our country is great, but flawed.  She is beautiful and infuriating all at the same time.  You could spend years traveling within her borders and experience many amazing cultures.  In fact, we could drive for less than an hour and immerse ourselves in several cultures here.  With such rich diversity around, you will grow up with a genuine appreciation and respect for everyone you encounter.

You will be culturally knowledgeable and aware without being politically correct.  You will ask questions and explore with a global perspective.  You will understand cultural expressions without name-calling.  Your mother and I will give you the tools and the heart to be kind to your fellow man.  However, I’m sorry that they may not show you the same respect.

You will encounter people who will not know you, but they will think that they know your “type”.  They will assume to know your strengths and weaknesses before you have a chance to demonstrate them.  They may even try to keep you from achieving your goals one day.  I am sorry, but this is what you get.

If you ever remember any words from me let it be these: Other people’s prejudices does not give you an excuse.  Racism is not new, but our history has still given us Frederick Douglas, Jackie Robinson, General Chappie James, and many more.  Racism did not disappear or take a break in order for these people to do great things.  You are never allowed to use it as an excuse to give up or give in.  The dreams you have now are waiting for you to fight for them.  The obstacles that stand in your way are temporary and have been overcome before.  No one will give you anything, but don’t allow anything to keep you from your dreams.  This is the society you’ve been born into.

Find your path, or blaze a trail.  

Love,

Dad

~JB

Comments

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Comments

  1. Well put.

  2. If I have a son ( I’m Black) and he grows up and moves to Sanford, FLA., by then, he’s gonna learn a lesson about dealing with police ( and those aspiring to be police) when he’s by himself at night. I dont want any child to grow up without hope, but I’d want my kids to know how to survive. Every Black male in America learns this lesson about America when he’s about 13, and frankly, its not a good one.

    • My first experiences came around age 8, but it wasn’t until a couple years later that i learned what prejudice felt like.

  3. Al says:

    I think it’s important to not miss an opportunity to differentiate between racism and law. Racism can’t likely be changed by a vote (if only slightly reduced by showing the public that certain behavior is no longer officially acceptable) but laws can and often need to be. The danger is throwing up one’s hands at the existence of the former and thus ignoring the latter.

    I know I’m guilty of basically linking every story over at TheAtlantic wherever I go, my apologies, but the most recent review of the facts of Trayvon’s case should motivate people in Florida – and other Stand Your Ground states – to try to resolve the thing we actually can fix with a vote.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/trayvon-martin-and-the-irony-of-american-justice/277782/

    The NRA basically wrote these state laws and disseminated them for signing. I’m all for responsible gun ownership & teaching kids the power as well as the danger and finality of using such tools – but there was hardly an epidemic of victims being prosecuted for defending themselves when these laws came into being. Its madness.

    • DO I think that the “race” aspect of this case was sensationalized by the media? Absolutely. However, GZ was initially motivated by race and prejudice. What happened after that was up for the court to decide.

  4. I don’t think prejudice of any kind will end in our time. There will always be those who seek to divide because of differences instead of celebrating the richness differences provide in our lives.

    As a mom of brown children, I see racism regularly. There are no simple answers. We teach our children to value people, not the way people look. Hopefully, this will give them strength as the travel life.

    But, I have to say, there are few things as painful as seeing your child discriminated against because of the color of their skin. It tears my heart.

    • It is rough. My kids are still young, so I like to think that they don’t know what it is yet. I worry about anyone thinking less of them for reasons they can’t control.

This is what I think...

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