So much has happened in the past few weeks here in the South. The topic of racism has been front and center after the tragic events in Charleston, SC. So much heartache, so much pain, so much confusion, and so much anger and fear. We currently live in South Carolina at the center of it all. So these events hit close to home. I’m not here to throw statistics and facts at you or lecture you on the existence and detriment of racism in today’s society. Rather, this is a message from the heart, a mother’s heart. This is a plea from one family to another. My family needs your help.
My family consists of myself and my hard-working, loving husband who serves so honorably in the military.
And who also happens to be black. Yes, my best friend and the man I fell head-over-heels in love with happens to have a different skin color than me.
And then there are our children. We are so blessed with three of the most intelligent, caring, hilarious kids ever. But they are burdened with so much confusion lately. They are trying so hard to make sense of what’s going on around them here in South Carolina.
At times, I recognize it doesn’t help them that I can’t make sense of it either. They know love and acceptance are good. Hate and discrimination are bad. And they’ve learned a great deal on the history of the Civil War and slavery. I can testify as the “Fieldtrip Chaperone Extraordinaire,” that they’ve had some of the coolest hands-on history lessons since we’ve been here in the South this last year.
And when I say cool, I mean, we’re literally living in the heart of the civil war territory. They have been able to witness civil war reenactments. We have a historic cemetery just a few blocks from our home that we walk to that has both Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers buried there. We’ve even stood inside the beautiful, White Homestead in Fort Mill, SC where the last meeting of the Confederacy was held before surrendering to the North. I want my children to experience all of this. I want them to learn history by seeing it, not just reading about it in a book. I NEED my children to know the importance and value of this history, so that they can help ensure that it doesn’t repeat itself.
They know slavery wasn’t right. And they know that racism is bad. But they had never witnessed or experienced racism until we were transferred here to the South (I know racism is not limited to the south). They had never witnessed segregation until moving here.
“Momma, why do black people and white people almost always stay separate here?”
“Momma, if slavery was wrong, why does that man have a Confederate flag on the back of his truck? Does he want slavery to come back? Does he hate Daddy?”
“Momma, if you and daddy love each other, and you’re both nice people, then why do people think it’s wrong for you to be married?”
“Momma, why would someone not like me just because of my skin color? Why would they want to be mean to us just because we look different?”
I woke up this morning to the news that the Klu Klux Klan has officially reserved and committed to a protest at the South Carolina State Capitol on the 18th of July. This is all over the debate on whether the confederate flag should continue to fly in front of the capitol building. And officials also confirmed five cases of arson at African American churches in the South that have been burned down since the Charleston Massacre.
My heart is broken. I’m worried. I’m angry. And I’m afraid for the future. This can’t be right. It’s 2015. How could I have been raised my entire life in a small town in Kansas, and never experienced any of this? Yet now, 20 years later, my children are being exposed to racism. …Hateful, ignorant, and heart-breaking racism? It doesn’t make sense. How is this even happening?
And if I’m being honest, it’s all becoming too much. The negativity is starting to consume me. So I made a decision this morning. For myself, for my husband, for my children and for every person who is currently hurting from the hate and racism. We’re not going to let the hate and negativity consume us. Instead, we’re going to continue the good fight. The fight against racism. And I’m going to ask for help. From YOU. From one mother to another mother. One parent to another parent. From one human-being to another…
I need your help.
My family needs your help.
This hatred and the racial tensions are dividing our country and hurting so many. My family included. Racism exists and it’s growing as tensions grow. Love and education are the two most powerful ways to face racism. And they can make racism shrink.
First, let’s talk about educating.
-I need you to help me by educating your children on the history behind slavery, the civil rights movement, and racism.
-Explain to your children that racism is wrong. They need to hear it from your mouth.
-I need your help by explaining how much racism and discrimination hurt people.
-Remind them that we are all uniquely created to look different. That’s what makes us special.
-I need you to teach them that hate is a choice. And so is love.
-Teach them love is always the best choice.
-I need you to help me by making sure they know that love and education are the most powerful ways to eliminate racism.
-Most importantly, I need you to teach them that they can make a difference. They have the power to help fight racism.
I need your help doing those things. But I don’t want to stop there. My family and I want to incite action. We want to create an opportunity where families of every race and background can take a stand against racism in their communities.
So today we had a family meeting(minus Daddy-he’s a workin’ like crazy). And I asked the kids how we could make a difference in the midst of all this bad stuff going on.
“Momma, how about a contest to see who can be the nicest? Like we go do nice things for people that are different skin colors so then we’ll all be friends?”
BINGO. A “Challenge For Change.” From the mouths of babes, folks!
So here it is. My family’s challenge for you.
A Challenge For Change.
Let your kids help pick and complete an act of kindness towards individuals of a DIFFERENT race/ethnicity/religion than you. As a family, seek out your neighborhood, your community, and/or your city. Stretch out of your comfort zone. Let them know you are doing this because you want to be a part of the solution to racism.
It can be as simple as helping a neighbor clean up their yard, delivering a small gift to someone in your community, inviting a family over for dinner…You can even attend a community event or church that is predominately compiled of a different race than you. It can even be as simple as stopping a stranger in the street, and telling them you love them and asking them if you can give them a hug. (I’m serious!).
It’s loving with a purpose. The opportunities are endless. If you accept this challenge, I promise you that your family will be making a difference. Your children will see that no matter how small the act of kindness, they still have the power to make the world a better place. You may not be a part of the problem, but you can still be a part of the solution. And if you’re already doing these types of things, then please don’t stop.
Now the only question that remains is: will you and your family accept this Challenge For Change?
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for hearing my plea. And a HUGE thank you to Heather at Only Passionate Curiosity for allowing my voice to be heard.
Alicia is a mom of three beautiful kids, and a proud military spouse. Soon, she’ll be launching her own blog, The Clumsy Mom, so stop on over to bookmark the page! She also happens to be one of the wonderful women who help me keep this blog afloat despite life’s crazy. I’m so proud to call her a friend.
Thank you for reading the blog today, and I hope you find a moment today to do something kind for the people in your neighborhood. If you do, please share it on social media with the hashtag #ChallengeForChange so we can cheer you on!