Shout Out to All the Dads
by Chris Wilkinson
“What’s happening in the video?”
Hey, you know what was a hard conversation for the white father of a brown son? Explaining race-based injustice to an almost six year old (who I’m certain will have struggles in life that I can’t even begin to understand, beginning with a genetic legacy based in the trans-Atlantic slave trade that gave him his beautiful, toasty skin, that I envy)–it was tough, but after a seriously long pause I got a, “that’s bad, I’d protect people” . . . and that’s my boy. I’ve got a good egg. Sure, he can’t wrap his head around all of it, but it’s my job to help him understand what I can . . . but I can only show him the way and protect him for so long.
That is where you come in. You know what is going to be even harder? My white friends who have never dealt with this, and now need to talk to their white sons. Need to. It is your job to say something. Silence is saying something. The wrong thing. Oh, and your black box profile pictures do not do anything. They mean nothing. They are the “thoughts and prayers” of our social media, disconnected generation.
So, do something. Have the conversation. Explain that there IS a difference between sameness and e q u a l i t y. I have heard the equality gap described as a golf handicap by Trevor Noah, and I like that. I used a similar example with the height of heels on shoes in a “same-height party” in my Political Theory class.
If you are mad about windows and property before you are mad about race-based oppression, you are on the wrong side of history. If you do not think you need to have the conversation with your children, you are on the wrong side of history. History is being made, now. We have a president who has gassed and shot at peaceful protestors so he could get a photo op across the street with a Bible I am certain he is never read. He is threatened the deployment of the U.S. military on peaceful protestors, in US states, if the democratically elected governors will not use the U.S. National Guard to bully out protestors… oh yeah, this is on US soil. First Amendment in the United States Constitution: “. . . or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“But protestors are violent.” . . . so blanket statements are cool, then? Like say, “all cops are violent”?
If you’re a police officer I’d encourage you to kneel, and listen like the NYC queens dpt. Policing needs a systemic overhaul and reevaluation of how we deal with safety, and I can assure you it is not Law and Order bravado.
If you are tired, I get it. The pandemic has been brutal for literally everyone. If you are physically wiped out, I get it. I have cancer. If you are mad, I am too. But I am also listening–because that is my job. I cannot fix systemic, but I can talk to my children and listen to my friends of color. Do something.
I do not want this America for my children. I want a better one.
Chris Wilkinson is a husband; father; entrepreneur; adjunct professor of political science; public affairs professional; writer; photographer; gamer; and perpetually restless. He has two beautiful children, Ezra, and Margot. They are eleven months apart in age which makes life full and interesting for both he and his incredible wife, Neysha.