Somedays it’s hard to write fiction, when the world is churning, so today I share my thoughts not on writing, but on living, and mothering, with the headlines being what they are.
I am the mother of a young man of color, and a day doesn’t go by without something new to warn him about. Don’t ever run from the police. That’s not a new one, but one I’ve drilled into him, something I didn’t do with his white siblings. Don’t hold anything (like a cell phone?) if it’s dark, in your back yard? Especially in Sacramento?
Now, Don’t loiter, or even linger, in Starbucks.
That story had me spinning for days. I watched the video repeatedly. What were these cops thinking?
Here’s the thing. I’m not anti-cops. I was recently the victim of a crime. The cops were great, and yesterday I was informed, months later, that they have apprehended the thief and are pressing charges. I know great, awesome cops. I also know that a local cop stopped my son last spring and asked him to produce a receipt for the ice cream he carried home. Just because. Fortunately, he had kept the receipt. What if he hadn’t? Is that another rule? Keep every receipt!
For my college-age daughter, I offer a different set of “don’ts”. Don’t drink too much around strangers. Or men. Don’t meet alone with a man for work, and if you do, have the door open. Never meet in a hotel. Even the lobby now seems dangerous. Don’t take Uber late at night by yourself. Don’t walk home in the dark either. Or walk to your car alone. Don’t drink from anyone’s water bottle. Don’t ever take a meeting with Bill Cosby. Or Harvey Weinstein. Or any man, if they want to meet anywhere other than a public place. And bring a friend.
And still, if they were to obey every rule I’ve just offered, they would not be safe. Because they might be raising their hand at school when a shooter enters, or ordering popcorn at the movies.
All I can do is remind myself how privileged we are, and that for all the fears and limitations we face, we are “free” compared to most of society. We do not live in a neighborhood where girls are forced into sex trafficking (as they are in neighborhoods just across the bay.) My children do not face violence in their schools on a daily basis. (As they might in some nearby schools). We are citizens of this country, and do not live with the fear of being deported as so much of our wonderful community does.
We are “privileged” in so many ways.
Which is why it is still on us, to take a stand. It’s on us, to be vocal when police are being inappropriate. To witness and say, as the allies in the recent Starbucks video did, “They didn’t do anything. Why are you doing this? This is not OK.”
It’s up to us to teach what consent means in high schools and colleges. It’s up to us to offer young women a way to get home that doesn’t involve getting in the car with strange men. It’s up to us to welcome the one dark face in our community, our workplace, our café. It’s up to us, to make our workplaces LGBTQ friendly. It’s up to us, to create sanctuaries for the marginalized.
It’s up to me, to show my son so much love it washes away the sting of prejudice that permeates our community. Up to my husband to love our daughter so much, she never accepts less than respect from a man.
It is up to my children, what internal wolf they feed: the one of fear and anger, or the one of righteousness and courage.
The world will feed the first, I pray they feed the latter.
BOOK NEWS (Gotta get a plug in)
Book is now available on Kindle! Down load it now if you don’t have it yet, right here.
There are lots of ways to get a print version: Come to an event (see events page), hit a local indie bookstore, ( now on the shelf at Diesel, Readers and Book Passages), order from the publisher (Widopublishing.com) and order from Amazon to be delivered May 8, 2018.