I was going to add “little” to the title, as in “dirty little secret.” Unfortunately, it’s not a little secret. What isn’t? The racism that still runs rampant in America.
How do I know this? Because my kids are black.
Over the years, I have seen the subtle and not so subtle signs of racism in our community. Yes, the majority of people we encounter as a family are wonderful and have never reacted in any way to the color of my kids’ skin. But a small faction has always been there and it is because of them that letting my sons leave the house was always tinged with just a little bit of fear. Would they come home again?
Why am I afraid they won’t? Because of the people around us who react with fear and suspicion at the site of big black men.
When I shop alone at a certain big box store, my cart is never checked when I leave. If I’m with one of the boys and he’s pushing the cart, we will get stopped more than not. When I approach the cart and ask what the problem is, the searcher has the good grace to look embarassed as he or she apologizes.
When my sons were little, just running through the neighborhood would cause some people to chase them down to see what they stole from them. Yup, little boys playing tag through the streets caused some people to instantly think of theft.
These are just two examples of what we have experienced living in a racially diverse suburb. I can’t imagine what people of color experience in less diverse areas.
And today’s racism isn’t just for black people. So many ethnic groups appear suspicious in the eyes of white Americans. At a time when we should have moved past “white American” to simply American, this saddens me as a citizen.
As a mother, it just reinforces my fears: will they come home?
My heart hurts for Trayvon Martin’s family. A mother’s worst fear just became a reality.