And for once I was SuperMom

Friday, July 19, 2013


So now what do we do?

After hearing the verdict of the George Zimmerman case I shuddered throughout.  I thought we had come so far.  I hurt for Trayvon's parents.  Had my daughter's been out that buying iced tea and skittles most likely Mr. Zimmerman would have offered to walk them home.  Had I son, maybe we would have told him to run right home.  Even though any teenager regardless of color can be up to no good at that time of night.  We are capable of theft and violence, no matter what shade our skin is.  How do we change this?  How do we make our world safer for our children?

My husband runs a camp on the North Shore; an area about forty five minutes north of Boston.  The area we live in is quite homogeneous, largely middle class and wealthy white folks.  There is a town that is more ethnically diverse about a half hour south of called Lynn, it is also more economically depressed than the North Shore (which isn't saying much, most places are more economically depressed than the North Shore).  My husband started a program with a charter school in Lynn and we are now pulling Junior Counselors up from Lynn to work alongside us.  They all happen to be of Latin or African backgrounds.
Last summer I assumed that these counselors would feel a bit out of place, I wanted to reach out to them.  I wasn't real sure how to do it.  I didn't want to march up to them and be all, like, 'so you're clearly not from around how's it going.....are people being all not racist and stuff?'

One of our counselors has done a particularly good job reaching out the them and incorporating them warmly  into the staff.  I happen to be good friends with her so I asked her how she did it,
"I just treat them like they're human," she said with a shrug.
Oh right.  That.
The more I study people and culture, the more people I meet from different cultures the more I notice that we're all people.
I remember a conversation I had with a Kenyan friend about introducing foods to their babies, what did they give their babies?  All soft mashable foods, one at a time...huh, exactly like we do.
Once I was having a group conversation with some Maasai women, they asked us how long our periods were and giggled with surprise pleasure when they found that they were the same length as theirs.

As for our junior counselors I did remember that they are teenagers and any awkwardness I perceived from them probably had far more to do with the fact that they are just that, awkward teenagers.  I also forget that I am, gasp, an adult, and, terrifyingly, married to their 'boss.'  So far I have tried to treat them as such, scared teenagers, so I talk to them about their broken phones, let them play with my children, and smile at them when they look the most terrified.

I think it's important to remember that Trayvon Martin was just that, a scared teenager who was accosted by a man with a gun.  He was accosted, most likely, because he was black and that is something awful that we need together on as a society.
We need to remember that mostly people of different colors than us are just people.

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