Thoughts on Black Lives Matter from a CW Mom.
I have been silent for the past couple of weeks, which if you know me, you know is very unusual. I feel that it is important that I share my feelings and talk about my personal experiences when it comes to racial inequity. So far, I have been speechless because it is very personal to me. I have emotions that I cannot control and although my heart is full of hope at this point, I am also scared and confused.
My life first changed when I fell in love with a black man and it changed even more when I married him. It changed even further when I had my two sons. About 14 years ago, my husband and I had to make a difficult decision after our first son was born: Where do we want to settle down and raise our children? We both came to the US to pursue higher education, but we had the opportunity to settle down in Europe, Africa, or to stay in the United States. We chose the United States because of what this country stands for, most importantly: freedom, justice, and equal opportunities for all. We both believed in the American dream, “If you work hard and contribute to society, the sky is the limit.” We believe in God, family, respect, and hard work, and this is what we have been teaching our children since they were born.
I just keep asking myself: “Why?” And “How is it possible to murder someone because of the color of his skin?” This is not the first time, and it is hard to believe that this will also be the last. However, this is the first time in my lifetime that people, regardless of their race, are showing their outrage and are demanding action. This makes me hopeful.
My husband was attacked, stabbed, and nearly bled to death in Hungary while we were dating. We were stopped and harassed multiple times, we were refused service at certain places, and were served last at restaurants. We lost friends from both sides who did not agree with mixed marriages. I was refused a seat at church even though I was eight months pregnant because I was with a black man. We learned to live with it and I always said to myself, “as long as they don’t hurt us, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.” Today is different. But my message is not about me or my husband. My main focus is on our children.
Our boys are now 14 and 11 years old. They have been watching the news and have many questions. We had to have conversations with them in the past few days that were beyond difficult. How do you explain to your black children that even if they work hard, have outstanding grades, help and care for others, it may still not be enough? How do you explain to them that they have to work even harder and do even better than their friends, just because of their skin color? How do you explain to them that they need to be extra cautious and extra careful of who they talk to and how they behave?
My 14-year-old is finishing 8th grade with honors with distinction and very excited about going to high school. He is no longer cute; he is actually taller than I am and turning into a very handsome young man. But some might look at him now as a threat. He is very well-behaved and has a huge heart. He stands up for injustice already at this age, just like my younger one. It makes me proud and scared at the same time. I remember when a couple of years ago we were at a playground and some kids bullied my boys because of their skin color. I watched their reaction and was very proud of how they responded, by trying to educate the other kids that everyone is the same, regardless of their skin color.
He also recently received a very disturbing racist text message that I cannot even repeat because it breaks my heart. Unfortunately, I know that this is just the beginning for my boys and they will have to face more injustice in their life as they grow older. I am sick to my stomach when I think about the time that will soon come, when they go to college and leave the house. I cannot imagine not being there to protect them.
I am focusing this message toward my children, whom I would like to believe are a part of the future of this country, as well as all the other children out there regardless of their race: Nobody is born with hate. Nobody is born a racist. We all learn about how to behave from our families, our schools, our communities, and our societies. We must do better.
I am asking all of you to do better to make sure that this momentum will last. Please help to spread the word that injustice is not OK. Please help so that parents, like my husband and I, can sleep peacefully.
I know that we as an agency have a long way to go and we must work on racial diversity when it comes to our workforce. Regardless, I feel blessed to be part of the CW family. I would like to personally thank each and every one of my colleagues for that. My family and I always felt appreciated and never felt judged or discriminated against. Thank you for the outpouring of love and support.
“Instruction is good for a child, but example is worth more.” – Alexandre Dumas