Monday, July 23, 2018

Raising a Black Daughter in a Red State

I was raised in Orange County, in California, one of the reddest of the red states back in the 1970s. I have two sisters. Being a black (mixed-race) person, there's some things you deal with as a racial minority. Unfortunately, you have to deal with racism. We were lucky, though. Our parents were educated and middle class. We had a nice home in a nice area, with good schools. Our family was cultured. We traveled, in the U.S. and to Europe. I don't ever think my parents said it was a "heartbreak" to raise us in California. If anything, my dad thought it was much better than being raised in the South.

But this piece, from Shanita Hubbard at NYT, is a new classic in the genre of geographical polarization. If you're going to face racism, it's not going to be exclusively in "red states." You're just going to experience it and you're going to learn to deal with it, manage it, and make it less debilitating. And America today is nowhere near where it was back in the 1970s when I was growing up. It's much better, so much better, even in the Deep South.

In any case, FWIW, "The Heartbreak of Raising a Black Daughter in a Red State":


Nearly two years ago, I moved with my daughter, who was then 7, from Yonkers to a small town in Pennsylvania. It’s minutes outside of New Jersey, but right in the heart of Donald Trump’s America. Sixty-one percent of the people in my county voted for him.

Drive through most communities in my town and you’ll still see large blue Trump campaign signs on perfectly manicured lawns. Chances are, you’ll spot at least two newer-model pickup trucks with Confederate flag license plate frames. As I, a black woman, move through my daily routine, I exchange nonverbal social pleasantries with my neighbors — gestures that are calculated to avoid the kind of actual conversation that could quickly become uncomfortable. A quick nod. A small smile. But all the unspoken words that haunt my interactions in stores and on sidewalks seem to fall freely from children’s lips on the school playground.

Raising a brown girl in a solidly red area of a red state is giving me a front-row view of the way the current political climate is affecting young children.

In the past few months, it seems, there is a new, sad, pithy hashtag trending every week or so — a white person calling the police on a black family barbecuing, a black boy mowing a lawn or a little black girl selling bottled water. The interactions are dangerous and also send a dangerous message to children: There are people who believe you don’t belong here. That’s the message I worry my daughter will get every time we drive to school behind a car with a Confederate flag bumper sticker, and worse — when she’s with her classmates and I’m not there to protect her.

When I’m feeling particularly optimistic, I imagine that these kids must have been busy playing, out of earshot, when Mr. Trump’s calling African nations “shithole countries” was reported on the evening news. I try to convince myself that if their parents are defending a man who referred to neo-Nazis as “fine people,” it’s after all the children have gone to bed. I hold out a glimmer of hope that any praise for the “Muslim ban” is saved for when the youngest members of the household are preoccupied with screen time. I assure myself that no mother or father would tell a child that migrant kids from Mexico deserve to be separated from their parents and detained because they are “illegal.”

I am consistently jolted back to reality, and not just by evidence on the internet, like a video that surfaced of two white parents teaching children to be “patriotic” by vandalizing a mosque. My reminders come in the form of my daughter’s answers to “How was your school today?” One recent afternoon she reported that two girls she considered friends could no longer play with her. The reason: She’s brown...
I actually don't believe this story, about how kids wouldn't play with her daughter because "she's brown." And if something like this does happen, so what? You can't force people to play with you. Go find someone you like and enjoy being with. The world's not perfect, and it didn't start not being perfect with President Trump. What's wrong with our country today is leftist political correctness. It's so stultifying and hateful. I don't enjoy following politics and teaching politics as much as I used to, for these reasons exactly.

More at the link, FWIW.

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