Has This Ever Happened to You?
You scrimp and save and send your kids off to college to give them a better education than the one you received only for your kid to return home and inform you that you are a racist. Pleases tell me I’m not the only one this has happened to. And perhaps they haven’t called you a racist, but some negative label based on the new “education” you scrimped and saved so they could have.
My first response was, “No I’m not” because I really believe this to be true. I was raised in a somewhat Jewish home, and I’m a woman, so obviously I have two strikes against me. Ba-dum-tisk. The point being, l am familiar with receiving judgment based on circumstances beyond my control. So imagine my surprise when I learned I was a racist.
My daughter asked me to read a book she had just completed. I live for these moments as a writer, and mother and daughter share books. Would I have preferred thriller? You bet, but you take what you get. The book is called Waking Up White. All right, I’ll give it a try. Clearly, I can relate to this since it’s something I do every morning
So I read author, Debby Irving‘s, eloquent explanation of how her entitled and waspy upbringing led to her Polly-Anna view of the world. Knowing, but not having the words to articulate why white people were deemed the superior race while she grew up. But it crossed my mind. When you’re raised somewhat Jewish you are constantly told “we are the chosen ones” to which I always said, “Chosen to be picked on.”
My sense of humor was never appreciated growing up, but I didn’t specifically share the Polly-Anna view the author had – and yet – here I was being accused of racism. I think at best I should be accused of apathy, but I was trying to understand where this was coming from. Then I came across the highlighted section on my daughter’s Kindle that explained exactly where it was coming from:
“By pretending the world was virtually problem free, my family culture left me grossly underprepared to solve problems.”
Well, excuse me for making your life problem free. How long will I have to say I’m sorry for this one? But as I thought it through, it dawned on me, that passage was absolutely correct. And while I wasn’t a helicopter parent exactly, I did my best to keep my kids busy and on-schedule, thinking this would somehow prepare them for life. Growing up, my family put the fun in dysfunction. I went out of my way not to make this a repeat performance for my kids, but now as I’m understanding it, some dysfunction or adversity is not a bad thing. It gives them grit. It teaches kids how to navigate a world that isn’t fair.
Of course, I challenge any parent holding their newborn to say to their spouse, “Honey, let’s make life mildly difficult for Junior so he won’t be grossly underdeveloped.”
Protection and survival are instinctive – though sometimes the protection can lead to smothering. I get it. Back to me being a racist, I’m working really hard at becoming more aware of any exclusion I may commit and will concede I sometimes take for granted the unassuming ease of my life. When it’s all you know, it’s all you know, but I get it, we should continue to learn and grow and sometimes it’s our kids teaching us things about ourselves we didn’t recognize.
So has this every happened to you? Share your stories below.