Thursday, November 15, 2018 || By ShaRhonda Dawson || OPINION || @maywoodnews
Recently, there has been an uptick in racism and anti-Semitism in our community. We are all aware of the dangerous racial rhetoric that came from the election of President Trump, but many of us, myself included, thought we were safe in our neighborhood from white terrorism.
However, the spree of recent local attacks, has proven me wrong. Hate graffiti was drawn on garages, someone wrote “nigger” on high school walls in a neighboring suburb, and even someone air-dropped the Nazi symbol to students.
I moved to Broadview because I wanted to give my children the “gift” of living in a “racism-free community.” I wanted my children to feel safe playing outside of their home, walking down their street or community without worrying about being called a nigger, among other things. I also chose Broadview because professionally, I work on social justice and racism, so I wanted a respite at home. I naively believed by moving to Broadview, my family, unlike so many of my friends, could avoid dealing with racism in our home community.
I naively thought living in Broadview would give my husband and I more time to delay “the race talk” and possibly avoid overt racism for our children. Like so many parents of color, I agonized over when to give my black children “the race talk” and I realize I can’t avoid it by moving to a certain community. Racism, is and always has been, in all communities in America. There is no community where we can isolate our children from dealing with racism.
There are many tactics to fight racism, like writing tips to navigate white racism or giving “the race talk.” But I don’t want to use those tactics. Instead, I’m going to use prayer as a tool to stop racism.
To my children, and all children in our village, 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 a divinely and perfectly created child of God. From the top of your heads 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 chose the perfect shade of brown for you.
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 have a racism-free childhood, which means:
1) You can play in your neighborhood without worrying about neighbors calling the police because you look, “dangerous.”
2) That you can have teachers and educators who see your genius and encourage you academically.
3) That you never have to “role-play” how to stay calm when you are detained by the police.
4) 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.
5) I pray that instead of worrying about racism, you worry about normal stuff like homework, extracurricular activities and TV shows.
6) 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 district, hang out with your friends outside and be able to freely engage with hip-hop. I pray that you are free to explore whatever interests you, like double-dutch, hand games and rap cyphers, without submitting to the pressure of the “white gaze,” or “respectability politics.’
7) 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 spirits surround you. You are not alone in fighting 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. VFP
ShaRhonda Dawson is a resident of Broadview. She and her husband, Brian, have two school-aged children and their family enjoy spending time at local restaurants, libraries, and taking long walks in the forest preserve. ShaRhonda’s writings can be found on her blog, sharhondatribune.com.
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