My son and I have an ongoing conversation about racism. We have discussed the horrors of slavery, war, and the holocaust. He knows that he has been born an American white boy, with an accompanying privilege that, as he has pointed out, “isn’t fair.” Why will he be treated differently, better, than many of his friends? I can’t pretend to understand the types of fear, hatred, and ignorance that make this true, but I explain it the best I can. It’s incomprehensible to an eight-year-old and incomprehensible to his mother.
We have talked about the current reality that our friends and family who look differently or worship differently or love differently are systematically devalued and marginalized. As always, he points out that this “isn’t fair.” We are angry together.
Because of his Jewish last name and heritage, he hears that there will be times when he is singled out, treated differently, and judged. But still he is a white boy and will not be considered suspicious by simply walking down the street. And that’s “not fair.”
We will continue our dialogue. He will know that with privilege comes power and with power, responsibility. I will lead by example. My prayer for him is that he will give voice to the voiceless and speak up in the face of discrimination. I pray for him to be an agent of change in a world that “isn’t fair.”