My understanding of racism and its impact is delayed by about 20 years when I compare it to your average person of color. Those that grew up in households whose families have matching skin color typically talk about the effects of race on a consistent basis. In 2007 a study on race concluded that families of color where three times more likely to talk about race than white families. My white family was similar and therefore my understanding was delayed until I ventured out in to the world on my own.
This last year the impact of race on my life has peaked and it feels like I have finally caught up to my peers. It has be especially difficult because it feels like I lived 20 years in the last year. Daily I feel the weight of what it means to be a Black man in this country. So much so it has forced me in to self-imposed solitary confinement. I stopped writing. I stopped looking to engage in extra dialogue because I was trying to figure out just what it all means. I guess I was trying to limit the effects of race on my life. But what I found was that is impossible.
Race and racism are like gravity. If I chose to deny gravity’s impact on my life it won’t stop gravity from impacting me. So I can’t ignore it thinking it will go away because it won’t. So what do I do?
One thing that hasn’t changed over the last year is that I feel this is what I was created to do. I was created to help transracial families walk along a smoother path than I did. So I have to get up and understand that I must grant myself parole for solitary confinement. The answers surely aren’t written on the walls of my small cell. Maybe the simple fact that I too struggle under the weight of race and racism will help a white mom who is raising a young black child. Maybe that struggle will bring understanding to that family that this unusual life is hard but necessary.
This self-imposed colorful life may make you feel like staying in bed and not interacting with anyone and you are not alone. But we have got to get up. Kick open the cell door and participate. If we have to lean on each other until we are strong enough to walk than let’s take shifts. As the hours pass we will get stronger.
What has helped me as a person of color is to understand that those people of color that have come before me and your children got back up. It is important for us to teach our children of color that they come from a powerful line of people who refused to stay down for too long. When they couldn’t stand they leaned on others, Black and White, who truly understood their worth and together they got stronger. We have powerful DNA that is telling me, IT’S TIME TO GET UP! So let’s go this last years also has shown me we got a lot of work to do so let’s get to it.