≡ Menu

I Just Realized That My Black Son Lives In A Different World Than I Do

Sannars-deal-with-racism

Once upon a time, I lived in a bubble. It was a lovely, safe bubble… where race genuinely didn’t matter. Not because it didn’t exist, or because we were all colorblind, but because we lived in unity and accepted each other. Once upon a time, I lived in a beautiful bubble, where a loving white couple who wanted a family, but couldn’t have children of their own, could adopt an incredibly amazing black child and raise him as their own, without fear.  No fear of racism, prejudice, social injustice, or discrimination of any kind. In this bubble, we could walk down the street with our son and never second guess the looks we get from passers-by… because it would never cross our minds that they were thinking anything other than what they should be thinking: “Wow, what a beautiful child. And what a sweet family, they are lucky to have each other.”

adoption-racism

In this bubble, my son grows up worrying about things like Tonka trucks and Legos. Someday, he would probably even worry about grades, girls and college. He would grow up believing… no, knowing that he could do anything he wanted to with his life. He would know, because I would tell him, that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to.

This nearly perfect bubble existed because I let it exist. It existed because it never crossed my mind to question it. It never crossed my mind to look outside of it. I never needed to look outside of my bubble. I didn’t even realize I was in one. I believed I lived in the same world that everybody else lived in.

I’m white, and I’m raising a black child. And until Friday, I really believed I understood all that that entailed.

When I woke up Friday morning and heard the news coming out of Dallas, my first reaction was shock and horror, and then shame that I am not more informed. Because I lived in that beautiful bubble, I had never heard of Alton Sterling or Philando Castile. I also had no idea there was meaning behind Beyonce’s performance at the Superbowl. I thought it was great choreography and was totally shocked at the controversy that followed. That was when I first learned about #BlackLivesMatter. And I’ll be honest, it felt a little weird. I didn’t really understand it. Was I racist if I didn’t agree? Was I anti-cop if I did agree? Having to ask these questions at all was enough to make me feel uncomfortable. And it wasn’t until I heard about the shootings in Dallas, that I finally got the nerve to begin having conversations.

Black-lives-matter-post

These conversations made me feel, not only like my perfect bubble had popped, but they made me suddenly feel as if I were living in a world separate from my black friends. Like out of nowhere, I learned things about them that had always been… I just never knew. Issues that never even crossed my mind have been quietly on their mind for years. We never talked about it. Not even once. It’s hard to describe how it felt, to be honest about my thoughts and know that my friend might leave the conversation thinking I’m completely naive and clueless about how the world works… It would have been easier to just smile and nod, and let her think I totally agree. But that wasn’t the truth. And it wasn’t so much that I disagreed… it was just that I didn’t understand. I still don’t think I fully understand, and maybe I never will. Maybe you can’t, if you haven’t walked in someone else’s shoes.

I do know this: I love my child with all of my heart and soul. He is black, and I am white. I am Mother, and he is Child. We are a family. And I cannot imagine a world where his beautiful brown skin could be a detriment to his well-being. And as I sit here writing, with tear-stained cheeks and contemplate the world he will grow up in, I realize that is in fact a reality he could someday face. It never crossed my mind, that maybe someday when he falls in love with a girl, her parents may not approve because he’s black. It never crossed my mind that someday, a woman could be sitting in her car at a stoplight, and lock her car door when he walks by. It certainly never crossed my mind that someday he could be in danger, because of hate or discrimination. He could someday be the victim of misinformation. Misinformation that the media continues to perpetuate, turning people against each other and spreading hate in massive amounts. This is not a reality I’m ready to accept. This is not the world I’ve come to know and love inside my bubble. There’s still time to make a change. There’s time to better our world for our children. For their children and grandchildren.

adoption-racism-prejudice

I realize now, that I wasn’t prepared to teach my son about growing up in this world as a black man. Not because I think the world is a terrible place… because I don’t. I think this world is a wonderful place, full of opportunity and joy. But because, our world is not perfect, and there is still racism lurking. Because it’s a problem I’ve never had to face, ever… and I don’t know how to prepare him for it. But I do know how to teach him to love others. I know how to teach acceptance, equality and unity. I know how to teach him good vs. evil. Right vs. wrong. And I think that’s a great place to start.

There are so many posts going around right now about the Black Lives Matter movement that are written from every different perspective you could possibly imagine. They are incredibly important and I would encourage you to read as many as you can. Understanding an issue or current event from multiple perspectives is what ultimately fosters empathy, which fosters compassion… Stepping outside our comfort zone and trying to understand something from someone else’s point of view is hard, and rewarding.

building-memories-making-milkshakes-with-family

I could use this post to pick a side and make a stand. I could tell you that Black Lives Matter. I could tell you that Blue Lives Matter. I could tell you that police officers put their lives on the line everyday, and that I couldn’t possibly presume to know how each one felt in those horrifying moments, so I feel altogether unprepared to judge. And honestly, I believe all those things are true. Which is why, for me… there is no side to choose. There is only love. The only side there is, is the one where I can raise my son without fear. The side where my child can grow up feeling proud to be black, and proud to have white parents. I will choose the side where he never feels like he is less-than someone else. I will choose the side where my son is equal in all things.

Because he is.

6 comments
6 comments… add one
  • Barbara July 10, 2016, 11:15 pm

    Thank you for this insight. I hope you don’t mind if I share it. It is beautiful, honest and raw. Less judgment and more compassion is what I believe is important in the world. Keep fighting fear with love.

    • Leah Sannar July 13, 2016, 5:26 pm

      Thank you so much! Of course, I’d love for you to share. :o)

  • William September 11, 2016, 11:57 am

    Why do you refer to your son as your black son?

    • Leah Sannar September 11, 2016, 11:44 pm

      Hi William, this a good question, and thank you for reading the article. In reality, I don’t refer to him as “my black son” practically ever. Or basically never, really. In this case, due to the nature of the article and the topics I was covering, I chose to refer to him that way for a couple of reasons. #1 – because I don’t believe that being “colorblind” solves any problems. I know my son is black, I love his beautiful brown skin, and I see it everyday. I wouldn’t want to be blind to it. The true path to equality and unconditional love, in my opinion, is seeing our differences and loving each other for them. Not pretending they aren’t there. #2 – because I feel I had something important to say, about how today’s world issues affect me on my journey as a parent, and how they affect my son as a black child growing up in America… And I wanted to give my readers, and any potential readers who may find my article, a glimpse into what I was writing about. And the fact is, I do have a black son, and I don’t feel the need or have a desire to tiptoe around that. However, I also, in normal day to day life, never refer to him as “my black son”… because well, it’s pretty obvious. :o) He’s just my baby, whom I love very much.

  • Kels October 21, 2016, 11:39 am

    Hey there Leah: discovered your blog today and what a treat. As a black person, and a person recently diagnosed with Crohns, this posting rings of honesty, love, and support. Keep up the great postings and well wishes to your family!

    • Leah Sannar October 24, 2016, 11:37 am

      Thanks so much Kels! I appreciate your thoughts. Good luck to you with your Crohn’s… I know it can be very difficult, and I wish you the best. :o)

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

©2014 Life, Lemons and Lemonade | All Rights Reserved | Site by A LA MODE designs