I had my twitter feed up on my laptop when my two year old came over, pointed and asked "what's that?"
It was a car on fire as a result of riots in Minneapolis.
A protester hold sign reading "Justice for George" in Minneapolis on May 28.
Photographer: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images
How do I answer that? She's two years old. She just learned how to use the potty and is over the moon proud of herself every time. She loves applesauce and milk and blueberries and lima beans. She doesn't yet know about race or discrimination or violence. I had no words.
So I simply told her "that's a fire. That car is on fire." To which she replied "ok mamma" and scattered off to read her 80 million books in her play area. I sat there and started to weep. I didn't lie to her, but I also didn't have that hard conversation yet. That children her age, and with the same interests and wit and excitement will grow up to be treated differently simply because they look a little different than she does. But I need to. But I had no words.
If you have no idea the context of these revelations, here's a quick recap. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African-American man was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota when a police officer put his knee on his neck for an extended period of time. As a result, protests occurred, and riots happened.
Something that someone said during one of my master's class has been ringing around in my head for days. "When I asked my students to pinpoint the age they realized what race they are, none of the white students could do that. Minority students could tell you right away. I realized before how privileged I am and was. The biggest difference now is that I cannot in good conscience stay silent anymore. I never should have been, and I will not anymore. I assumed, falsely, that as long as I wasn't racist, I wasn't a part of the problem and that I was doing enough. That, and voting when I can. Small changes do compound, but I have to keep making those changes. I have a daughter now that looks up to what I do. If I stay silent in fear of having those hard conversations, I am a part of the problem.
Now, the protests and riots became more about one man's death. That death became the catalyst for pent up race issues in America.
It also has become political and dicey. News reports are coming in that many rioters and looters were actually white supremacists or individuals from out of state. This is important, because so many politicians are using the looting and rioting to paint protesters as "thugs". This is so dangerous. People's lives aren't political tools. These events, however, should be spurring political change for the betterment of everyone for equity's sake. Not finger pointing and childish name calling with little to no action, besides the spurring of violent confrontation and hate.
This is not about police vs African Americans. This is about racists people vs everyone else.
There are news stories about good cops listening to the protesters and even joining them in solidarity. So this is not about cops. As an educational professional, training and critical reflection on a professional level identifying biases is something that should be included in every continuing education or professional development for adult education. This is an opportunity for educational specialist to step up and reform adult education in regards to biases and discrimination.
I had many opportunities for critical reflection and emancipatory learning opportunities to identify my own personal biases and realize how I could make small, but compounding changes to the way I do my professional work. But that's not enough anymore.
On a personal level, this breaks my heart. I keep thinking, as a mother, having to have those difficult conversations I have been putting off, not because my daughter is going to witness this racism, but because that racism could be deadly to her, her father or me. Those conversations happen and are happening in homes across the country, especially today.
On a personal level, my heart breaks for George Floyd's mother. She lost her baby simply because he looked a certain way to the wrong people.
So, my friends: My heart breaks with you. I hear you. I see you. I cannot understand what you are experiencing, but I am angry with you. It's time to take action. One cannot say All Lives Matter until we include Black Lives. Once we can identify that Black Lives Matter, then we can say in confidence that All Lives Matter. Until then, they do not all matter to everyone. And that's the problem.
So you may ask, Duchess, why are you writing this? This is a fun blog about being a geek and being married to an esports professional. Well, I have a voice and I will not stay silent anymore. If I do, then I am contributing to the problem. My platform is small. But if I can reach one person, then maybe I can contribute to the solution.
Speak up. Donate. Protest. Vote. Volunteer.
Do whatever you have to and what you can to help your fellow human beings to be equal in the eyes of the law and equal in everyone's hearts.