We’re now in Day 30 of the government shutdown. I wake up every day thinking about the 800,000 federal workers who have been reporting to their jobs every day for the last month, but have no idea when they will receive their next paycheck. Mothers and fathers who work faithfully at jobs, many of whom we rely on for safety and security- TSA workers, coast guard, people who inspect the food we eat at the FDA. Their livelihood held hostage while our president and the Republican-controlled Senate continue to block all efforts to return normalcy to these people’s lives.
Throw on top of that the anti-semitic flyers found tucked in Little Free Libraries across my town last week- including one in an LFF I can see from my kitchen window. (http://newton.wickedlocal.com/news/20190114/police-anti-semitic-fliers-found-in-five-spots-in-newton)
So much hate in so many forms. But the image that is haunting me at the moment is the picture of the white teen in the MAGA hat mocking a Native American elder on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. (https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/19/us/teens-mock-native-elder-trnd/index.html)
Happy MLK Day, people.
So much hate in the world, there are barely enough words to describe. Sometimes, the weight of all of this hate comes close to immobilizing me. How is this the world we are living in? How is this the world I’m raising my children in?
It was that last thought, “How is this the world I’m raising my children in”, that finally began to give me a sense of direction. When I shift the emphasis from the beginning of the question to the end, I begin to move from helplessness to hopefulness.
When I think of the enormity of the hate in the world, I don’t know where I’d even begin start to address all of it. But when I think about how I want to raise my children, I know exactly where to start.
Let me start by telling you exactly what I think about your MAGA hat, young man. I see your choice to wear that hat as an act of aggression. Your hat screams to the world that you support an administration that shuts down the government and uses the wages of hard-working men and women as bargaining chits. Your hat tells me in no uncertain terms that you are aware that children, toddlers and infants are being separated from their parents and held in cages at our southern border. You are aware of this, and you don’t care. When you wear your hat, you broadcast to me your support of an administration that sees anyone who is not white, not straight, not Christian, not American-born as less than human. Your choice to wear that hat is an act of aggression.
So, yes, I watched the extended video. I saw the insults hurled at you by the “Black Israelites.” That was awful. I wish some adult in your group had had the good sense to move you to a different location and diffuse a tense situation.
I don’t believe you deserved to be on the receiving end of the degrading and harsh words thrown at you by the Black Israelites. I also don’t believe you deserve the hate mail and death threats you’ve received from prominent citizens and anonymous trolls alike after the shortened version of the video went viral.
I don’t believe you deserve that level of hate, but I also don’t think you are the innocent victims you portray yourselves to be. By wearing your MAGA hat, you associate yourself with a cruel, corrupt and heartless administration. By wearing your MAGA hat, by aligning yourself with this callous and soulless movement, you broadcast your lack of empathy for all to see.
Which brings me back to my initial question: How do I choose to exist in this world filled with hate? How do I choose to raise my children?
I want to live by example. I want my kids to look at me- the choices I make, the actions I take, and the love I give. I want them to see that I respect all people, and I expect them to respect all people as well. Not only do we respect all people, but we work our hardest to understand, include and make comfortable.
I know that raising kind and empathic kids is good, but it’s not enough. We all need to take action. We need to put our values to work by fighting the injustices in the world.
What feels important to me on this MLK day is recognizing that link between parenting and fighting the hate in the world. Every day, as a parent, I try to be a good role model. I try to act with integrity. I try to use my voice to guide my kids on their journey towards being caring, responsible adults. I try to help them see the privilege we have in our lives, and how we are especially responsible for helping address the systemic issues that discriminate against people who don’t share in the benefits of society that we enjoy as White, American-born citizens.
There is a lot of hate in the world, but there is a lot of good, too. There are many powerful role models for me as an adult to emulate, and for me to introduce to my children.
Happy MLK Day, people.