Recently, there has been an uptick in racism in my community. While I have been keenly aware of the dangerous racial rhetoric in our nation that came from the election of President Trump and writing and fighting to stop it, I didn’t think it the direct racism, of MAGA crew, would be in my neighborhood. Naively, I thought my children were safe in my community from white terrorism because we live in Chicago and White neighbors love the Obama’s. You know, my neighbors are the “Hope and Change” White people, not the MAGA White people. However, a spree of recent local attacks has proven me wrong. In my neighboring liberal suburbs, there have been spray-painting hate graffiti on garages, to people writing at nigger and swastikas on walls at high schools, and even someone air-dropping Nazi symbol to students.
It is upsetting for a number of reasons. But what really upsets me about this localized racism, is that I chose my home community because I thought I could immune my children from this kind of racism by living in a Black community. I chose to live in Broadview because I wanted to somehow give my children the gift of living in a “racist-free community.” I wanted my children to feel safe in their home, walking down their street or community, without worrying about being called a nigger or other racism. I also chose Broadview because professionally, I work on social justice and racism, nationally and in other communities, so I wanted a respite from dealing with racism at home. I naively believed that by moving to Broadview, my family could avoid dealing with racism in our home community.
Like so many parents of color, my husband and I agonized over when to give our Black children “the race talk.” I naively thought living in Broadview would give more time to avoid the talk and possibly avoid racism. But racism is, and always has been, in all communities in America. There is no place where we can isolate our children from dealing with racism.
There are many tactics to fight racism, like providing tips to navigate White racism, or the giving the mandatory “ race talk. ” But having racism in my own backyard has shaken me. I don’t want to write about traditional rules on how to navigate racism. There are enough of those pieces.
Because this racism is directly affecting my children, my family, and my community, instead of being professional “race-discusser,” I am going to be vulnerable and transparent. I am not sure we currently have the tools to dismantle racism ourselves. But I know who does: God. So, I’m going to use the most powerful tool I know, prayer, as a tool to stop racism from coming to my children, the children in my community, and in the nation.
My dear children, I want you to know you are a child of God, divinely and perfectly created and here are my prayers for you.
First, I pray that you know, with every bit of your fiber, that you are divinely and
perfectly created child of God. From the top of head to the bottom of your feet, you are beautiful and there is absolutely nothing about you that needs to change. The texture of your hair, was chosen by God. God looked at all the beautiful shades of brown, and choose the perfect shade of brown for you. The same color of brown that God choose for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Fred Hampton and LeBron James.
My second prayer is that you are able to have a childhood. For much of history in America, Black children were not able to just be children. So I pray that you are free to a racism-free childhood, which means:
- You can play in your neighborhood without worrying about neighbors calling the police because you look, “dangerous.”
- That you can have teachers and educators who see your genius and encourage you academically.
- That you never have to “role-play” how to stay calm when you are detained by the police.
- That you are able to make stupid kid mistakes and still be treated like a child. Dear children, you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, it is just the opposite. Your childhood is your time to make stupid mistakes. That is how you learn and grow.
- I pray that instead of worrying about racism, you worry about normal stuff like homework, extracurricular activities, and television shows.
- That you feel free to explore and experiment with God’s beautiful creation without racial limitations. That you feel free to ride your bike in the forest preserve, swim or play at any park, hang out with your friends outside, and be able to freely engage with hip-hop. I pray that you free to explore whatever interests you, like double-dutch, hand games, rap ciphers, without falling to the pressure of “White Gaze,” or “respectability politics.’
- My last prayer is that you know that you not only covered with the blood of Christ, but the blood, sweat, and prayers of your parents, and your Black ancestors whose spirit surrounds you. You are not alone to fight racism, your community is with you.
Lastly, I pray that God covers all the children in our community. I pray that our children have the innocent childhood they deserve, just like White children in America. And, if, or when, racism is able to penetrate our bubble of protection in our small community, that God gives us, the adults, the right tools we need to defeat racism and protect our children.
Dear Black children, you are divinely and perfectly made. God created you and you are perfect, in all of your beautiful Blackness.