We are a white family raising two black foster children in an increasingly complex climate of racism.
I have been trying to understand the issues and sort through the media hype for the facts. People have been asking me how we are talking about it with our two foster kids.
The short answer is… we aren’t.
It isn’t a current topic in our house.
We are sheltered from it in the place where we live. Our kids attend a very international school with immigrants from all over. Our community, although primarily white, seems to integrate people of other colours without drama.
On the surface all seems well.
But can I just take it at surface level? My gut tells me there is more to it. I find myself reading over what I have written so far and wondering if I’ve used the right language. Who will take offense at the words or phrasing? Who will judge me as uninformed or ignorant because of how I articulate my thoughts? The entire issue brings a new level of anxiety to my world. Not primarily for me, but for these two precious children we have been entrusted with and the family they come from. What challenges may they have ahead of them stemming from racism.
I am not innocent of the pitfalls of racism. I find it pops up in the strangest places… my frustration with being on the phone with someone who obviously does not speak english as their first language is an example. I want to learn… I need to learn to understand. I can’t just find a black author that says what I want to hear and say I’m not racist because I like what they say. My thoughts and opinions are a work in progress shaped by the world I have grown up in.
So here are some of the thoughts I’ve gleaned from the media storm that has surrounded the tragic incident of a black man being killed by a white man.
There is a difference between saying “I’m not racist” and being “anti-racist”. We all have to wrestle with how active we need to be to disassemble racism. Not being a part of any overtly racist activities may not mean you are a part of the solution, it just might mean you haven’t had opportunity for your underlying prejudices to surface. How you can engage in anti-racism actions is an individual choice based on your community and what you have witnessed. Allow people to make their own choices on how active they need to be in the fight against racism. But please understand what you are asking for and fighting against.
Not all police are bad. Matter of fact most police are doing a tough job and serving their community well. Seeing the worst of people over and over in their line of duty is hard on them. We don’t help by slandering police and allowing bad attitudes to continue in our communities. I have very little tolerance for those who promote the idea that police are all power hungry bullies. Some of the stories of how police are being treated in US communities right now are heart breaking. Choose to speak positively about those who are seeking to serve and protect your community. Look for opportunities to believe the best and encourage your local law enforcement.
That being said, abuse of power is never acceptable. They have been placed in a position of trust and are asked to hold to a high standard of moral behaviour on the job. Breaking that trust should never be excused or minimized. NEVER!
Not all black men deserve to be given martyr status and sanctified just because they were killed by a white police officer. Look up the facts. George Floyd was not an innocent man. He had a long record of being on the wrong side of the law. There is some talk that he was turning over a new leaf but the facts from that day don’t support this narrative. I believe in second chances, third chances, fourth chances! I believe people can change, but I believe change will show in the actions of those who are making it happen. He was not innocently accosted… he was in fact severely impaired by the drugs in his system. But he did not deserve to die! There is no justification for how he was treated. Neither do I believe he deserves to be immortalized and used as an example of police brutality. When is the last time there were protests all over the continent for a white, Asian or Latino criminal who was killed by police? Those wrongful deaths happen too…
Protests do not bring about the change needed but there is some value in highlighting an issue through peaceful protests. Letting our elected officials see how many people are willing to come out in support of an issue carries weight. What we do after the protest in our homes, neighbourhoods and organizations is what will change things.
I am puzzled by the rioting and looting. What purpose does that serve in bringing awareness to the issue? How does damaging property and looting stores promote the idea that black lives matter and police brutality needs to end? And to those who would argue it is not protesters looting, but looters looting… I have not seen a looting spree that is not linked to a protest (or natural disaster). Those that organize the protests can not be unaware that they are providing an opportunity for those who are prone to violence and opportunism. Those things work against a clear presentation of concern for the issue. I am thankful that the protest that took place nearest to my home was primarily peaceful and I am proud of our police force that took a knee in support of the movement.
The Foster system in which we seek to serve is involved in the battle against racism. I believe the current stats indicate that 70% of kids in foster care are indigenous. That is where Canada’s racism runs deep and gets ugly. There has been a lot of work done to educate caregivers in the system and work towards a mutual respect and understanding. There is a need for more.
There is also a growing number of children from immigrant families. We will need to continue learning the issues faced by families who enter Canada and face racist attitudes as they seek to establish a new life for their family. Then we need to figure out how to dismantle barriers that are rooted in racism. I guess we will have a front row seat on how that happens in the next couple of years as we try to help these two kids navigate the public school system, get jobs and participate in the community.
I have heard the phrase “Do the best you can with what you have.” for years. I recently saw it written this way…
Do the best you can with what you know.
Then when you know better, DO BETTER!unknown
We all need to be willing to learn and then do better if we are going to see changes that will bring peace to our community and our world.
So learn about the issues. Don’t just read what you agree with. Read the other side of the issue and think honestly about what is being said. Then act according to your conscience. Love and respect those who think differently.
Yes, black lives matter.
In the midst of the mess