A story by Judi Jones
Black Is Beautiful.
I've always joked that Denial is a wonderfully warm river. That joke doesn’t seem so funny these days. For years I wondered if I made the right decision by raising my bi-racial son without an awareness of race and racism. These days of racial protests I think of that decision with concern and even fear. Have I protected him? Have I taught him the best way to protect himself? Is there any protection if he is perceived as just another black man? Would it matter what I have taught him?
I have focused on teaching him the value of truth. I have taught him the value of taking responsibility for one's self. I have tried to teach him to have an open heart and I know in many ways, this young man of mine has learned the lessons well.
Then why am I so scared these days when he is out late?
I hear the words of an older black man...”I wouldn’t walk around Brunswick at 11 pm by myself…”
I hear the women tell of being pulled over late at night while driving home. Three women in a car surrounded by four cop cars, with officers at every window...
I hear my patient at the local clinic tell me about the officer who would wait every Tuesday night night outside Smitty’s, then follow him and before the Brunswick line, pull him over…
This is 2020 I say, how can this be??? How can a black man be shot dead in Brunswick and no one is held accountable to any degree? How can I have been so blinded to the struggle of being black and their reality for so many decades? How could I, for so many years, not realize how I endangered them, just by a friendly relationship or a romantic one?
What happened to Black Is Beautiful? That’s what I grew up with in the sixties, those were my formative years. That’s what my parents supported and let me hear from our pop culture. Was that the missed opportunity to educate me about minority oppression? If black is beautiful, isn’t this why we, as white people, have to teach our white children about racism. Black Is beautiful and yes, that is why.
I’d like to say it’s time to stop being so aware. Raise your children to be good, decent humans. There is only One Race.
But I am afraid these days. The jury is in. Parents in Maine and all over the world Still Have to teach their minority children how to act every day when they wake up. Every single day they must act...carefully, thoughtfully. My child has not had that burden...until lately.
No child should have that burden.
No parent should have that gut-wrenching fear waiting for their child to come home.
No human should tolerate the injustices. No human should float down that river that is so warm and gentle.
I am grateful. I am hopeful. And for the first time, I am afraid. I pray these days of upheaval will not be in vain.