Race Is Catching Up To Me
Once while driving home from church my Mom and Dad became silent as we started tailgating the car in front of us. I peered around my mom’s headrest and saw a man, the driver, beat a woman, his passenger, rapidly and violently about the head. Over and over he brought down his fist, her hair swinging back and forth in reply, all in a grisly silhouette. The adrenaline rushed and so did my questions, all of which were immediately quashed. The tone of my mother’s voice, as I now understand, was used to impart the seriousness and risk of our situation. My dad kept following. His foot on the pedal did all the talking. I’m here. I’m witness. I will not let this stand. The man kept beating.
At the next house my dad pulled into the driveway and went inside to call in the car’s license plate number. I can imagine my mother’s fear sitting alone in the car with her two kids in the backseat. My dad, a State Trooper, did what he could to stop a violent crime while keeping his own family at a safe distance. I knew nothing growing up of my father’s work – absolutely nothing – this was my first time as witness and I was scared and impressed and a little sick. My father’s example shaped my view of police, then and now.
I also know how lucky I am.
My husband is Indian and he wears a dark, full mustache and beard. It’s gorgeous and his parents hate it.
“Shave that beard before you fly! You’re going to get searched. You’re going to be stopped.”
In their minds Kris has the appearance of a terrorist and every time he travels they are scared he’s going to be profiled. Kris and I used to laugh at this, eyes rolling, his parents; so naive, so close-minded! But they have lived their whole adult lives as minorities in America and I need to acknowledge that. Lately, notably, the longer I parent, the closer race gets. My family is part of Society Melange. Just the other day a cashier asked if my kids were “mixed”. You know, because their skin is so beautiful. You know, because you can jump so high. Because you can dance so well. Talk so loud. Hang out on the corner. Wear a hoodie. Walk around with your pants hanging down.
Don’t comment on the color of my kids’ skin.
Don’t ever do it.
Race is catching up to me and I’m getting a little pissed.