"I Don't Want to Turn Black"

The last I wrote, I was taking a stand about the fellow mama who shamed me for breastfeeding my child on an airplane.  I was angry, and I said so, and writing made me feel better.  

Yesterday, the day after Alton Sterling's death, and the day of Philando Castile's death, I realized how incredibly privileged I am to have such things to take a stand about.  Someone makes me feel some kind of way about feeding my kid with my white breast, where and when and how I want?  I am important, but really, my problems are SMALL.

This morning, I heard my four-year-old wake up in the room next to me. She called "Mommy" a few times.  I went in and we both beamed to see each other for the first time, all over again.  I lay on her bed and she cuddled against me.  We sat in quiet comfort for a bit.  And then I remembered.  And I thought, "I will not lie to my child."

I told her that black men are being killed by police.  (I should have said "men and women.")  

She asked the following questions.  Some of them I answered, always simply and insufficiently.  Some of them I couldn't even try. 

"Why?" (many times)

"What are their names?"
Alton and Phil.  (I didn't want to mispronounce "Philando."  And today, I will learn to say his name correctly.)

"What are the police officers' names?"
I don't know. (I need to learn their names, too. Today.)

"What are their children's names?"
I don't know. (See above.)

"The girl who was four, like me.  What is her name?"

"But did they run really fast?"
They never got the chance to run.  They were either sitting in their cars, or completely pinned down by police. 

"But did the good police officers kill the bad guys?"
<blank stare>  and then They weren't bad guys. 

"So did the bad police kill them?"

"So we're safe because we're inside?"
We're safe because we're not black.

In a moment of "let's make it all better," I said to her, "No one's going to kill Daddy.  Because your daddy's not black."  (To be fair, her daddy, my amazing husband, is also not white.  He's Latino.  I think his chances of being treated the way our black brothers and sisters have been, are slim.  But I could be wrong.  I also hope that I'm not.  There's my privilege again.  I get to hope not, rather than fear for my partner's life on the daily.)

Eventually she asked if she could get out of bed.  She sat up.  I thought, "I need her to know this doesn't end here.  I need her to see that we must carry this reality with us, today and every day.  That, at least, is part of the something we can do."

I said, "Babygirl, we need to remember that we're lucky. We're lucky because our family is safe." 

She looked right at me and said, "So when we turn black, are people going to kill us?"  I didn't even have time to respond before she said

"I don't want to turn black."

I'm stopping there. Today.