Friday, June 28, 2013

I'll never get used to it

I've been the mother of bi-racial children for 22 years.  Since I was 16 years old, having met their father when I was 13.  That's a lot of years to get used to racism;  but I'm not.

I think I get more incensed now, after 20 years.  You would think time would mellow it a little, I'd grudgingly become accustomed to it, but oh no.  Part of it is my personality that's changed, I've grown up, I've found my voice.  And as time goes by and each and every one of my 6 bi-racial children grow and change and become amazing people that the world will be blessed to have,  it just becomes more and more personal.

We have not had to go through anything anywhere near as horrid as some other families have, but racism has touched our family, to a smaller degree, but hurtful nonetheless.  We're just regular people living regular lives in smalltown, USA, and contact with racism to any degree is a slap in the face.  These are my children; to me they have no color, just the color of beauty and love and mine.  But to others, it's different.

Last year during a middle school basketball game, a player on the opposite team called my 13 year old son a nigger.  I was not at that game, and I totally wish I was, but kinda wonder if maybe it's better that I wasn't.  When my son told me about it, I contacted the school he had played at and told them about the incident.  Thus began a 3 week process of trying to get some sort of acknowledgement/apology out of them.  When I talked to their athletic director, he acted very surprised (read didn't believe me) that that could've happened at his school.  I mean, they have minority students that go there, and one that plays basketball for heaven's sake. Surely none of his players would say such a thing.  Well, one of 'em did, buddy.  Twice in fact.  Once on the court and once on the way to the locker room. My son's friend bodily blocked my son from knocking the smart ass's teeth out.  And if my son had popped him one?  He wouldn't have gotten in trouble with me.  I don't condone violence as a way of handling things, but, be it right or wrong, in this situation I would not have blamed him.  Heck, I might've punched the little shit in the throat. (see earlier statement about maybe it's better that I wasn't there.)

Last night at basketball we had an incident with a grown man talking racist smack.  *Side note: I don't believe there's anything to the fact that these two occurrences both took place at basketball games.  I think it's just that 90% of the time that we're in public, it's at a youth sporting event :)

The man was standing on the side, watching the game while waiting for the next one to begin.  There are 3 mixed race boys on my son's summer league team and 1 Mexican boy, so this asshole had plenty to talk about.  I didn't hear him myself, but he didn't realize that the white lady standing next to him was one of the boys mother, and also my friend, who was most definitely going to tell me what she heard.  He said his brilliant bigoted bullshit to a kid with him who was no more than 16 or 17, maybe younger.  Way to be a role model, douche.  One comment he said was after one of our boys made a great play, and he said something about giving him fried chicken to reward him.  Really? Really?

I have been very interested in the George Zimmerman trial.  If you don't know the story of Trayvon Martin, you can read about it here.  It could've been my sons.  My sons are tall, and dark, and probably would've walked to the store in the rain for snacks.  All of their sweatshirts have hoods on them,  and their hoods would definitely have been up.  It could've been my sons, who got shot.  Because somebody looked at them and decided that the way they looked met his criteria for bad news. For suspicious. For wrong.  It could've been my sons who are dead.

I would never compare the racial trials I mentioned here (or any of the others my family has gone through) to something as tragic and violent and horrific as what happened to Trayvon Martin.  But here, in my little town, in my little world, in my little family, these incidents are a big deal.  This is where it starts.  These are the small things that taint my children's view of humanity, that make them question so many things (sadly, including their own worth), and that make me afraid. 

And angry.  So very, very angry. 

I have no answers, friends.  I'm just ranting.  And it's so much easier to be mad, then to feel the hurt.

It could've been my son


Thursday, June 13, 2013

June Secret Subject Swap - Take Two! Casting Call!

It's that time again, Secret Subject Swap time!  Karen from Baking In A Tornado organizes this great shindig for bloggers to step outside their comfort zones and have some fun!  This week, 12 brave souls each picked a secret subject for someone else to write about, and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style.  I love the "in their own style" part;  you see your prompt and then get to write about it in any way you choose.  Not like in high school where if you don't answer the question the exact way the teacher meant you lose half the credit.  Stupid.  Nope, this is totally individualized and creative and Fun!  We're all simultaneously divulging our topics, so put your feet up and check out everybody's creativity!                                Baking In A Tornado                   Searching for Sanity                       Outsmarted Mommy                              Indian American Mom                    Daily Dose of Damn             A Working Mom's "Whoas"                         Dawn’s Disaster                         Akashic Aisles: The Basement View                   The Pursuit of Normal                                   Home on Deranged
http://               Evil Joy Speaks
My Secret Subject was submitted by Searching For Sanity.  (She just got a new job, BTW, so go give her some congrats!).  My subject is:
***You have just been contacted by a movie director wanting to make a movie about your life. Who will you ask to play you in the movie?***
Well.  Should I choose an actress who plays characters similar to me?  Or an actress who in real life is similar to me?  Or someone who looks like me?  Or someone I'm envious of and would squeal like a pig if they even acknowledged me?
Tough one.  Ok, this became a group effort.  I was struggling, so I decided to ask some of the kids their opinions (I know, what was I thinking??). 
I asked J, my 14 year old son; A, my 13 year old daughter; and T, my 18 year old daughter.
Here's some of the responses I got:
J:  "Mario Lopez!"    Ummm...

A:  "Jackie Chan!"    WHAT THE?!?!?!

A again:  "Justin Bieber!"       ..........
J:  "Yeah, he looks like a girl."    <eye roll>

J again:  "The girl from 'The Hunger Games', she's hot."      Eww.  I do not wish to think about who my boy finds "hot". 

T:  "Jennie Garth, because you look alike."    T is my new favorite.

A:  "Julianne Hough from 'Safe Haven'."     I'll take it.

My ex-husband had sent me a text asking something about one of the kids, so I threw the question out there to him too.  (Yeah, I do not know what is wrong with me.)
His response:  "The chick from 'The Notebook', or Gwyneth Paltrow."     Huh.  He must have been in a rare good mood. 
Surprisingly (?) none of these answers helped.  The first people I had thought of were Kate Gosselin and Octomom.  Only because they have a lot of kids.  But, yuck.

Then I thought of Florence Henderson as Carol Brady; large family, blended family, both accurate.  But I don't know if 1970's housewife Carol could deal with some of the craziness that is mi vida.  Mi vida loca.

And then it hit me:  Jennifer Garner.  There seems to be some similarities in our real lives, and she has had such a broad range of tv and movie roles that she's not really stuck in one category.                               

Jen, as I affectionately call her, (not really, but it's shorter to type) seems to be a down home family girl who loves being a mom and wife, which I totally relate to.  She's kind of girl-next-doorish; not flamboyant or over the top, just a nice girl who is pretty down to earth.  Real.  Just being herself.  Kind of a sweetheart, but if you messed with her kids, I bet her mama bear instincts would come out and she would do some damage!  She also has a spark and a drive to step outside the box and do more; not because her family isn't enough, but because she wants to, and she knows how to find the balance.  This isn't an aspect of my life I'm exploring too deeply at the moment, but I definitely have learned that while it is amazing to be a mother and I love it more than life, there are other things out in the world that don't revolve around my kids, and those things can be exciting.  A couple of facts I found about Jen that are relatable:
-Jennifer Garner wasn't a fan of baseball before meeting her Boston Red Sox-loving husband Ben Affleck. "The more I watched – 'cause it was on all the time – the more he explained, the more I like it. Now I really like it," she told Allure in 2007.    -I was never a sports fan, until I had children that were natural born athletes, and I began spending the majority of my time at, preparing for, and/or talking about sports.
-Jennifer Garner almost got arrested the day of her prom. She and a friend were sunbathing topless in a park when police spotted them. "Can you imagine calling your parents [and saying], 'I was laying out naked,'" she told Teen People.    -Yeah, I have a few stories from when I was a teenager that my mom still doesn't want to hear about. 
-In 2010 she said:  "I understand that being an actress as well as being at home isn't some heroic thing," she says of being a working mom. "That doesn't mean it isn't confusing or difficult – especially that question of how you find a balance."    -When I was a single mom working full time, people often exclaimed over how much I did.  But I never felt like it was something to be looked up to, just something that had to be done.  But that didn't mean it wasn't hard, damn hard, and exhausting. 
                              So while Jennifer Garner and I are by no means clones, I think there's definitely some similarities,
and I bet she could take my life story and nail it. 
Now, about those royalty checks?