Natural Consequences

For those of you who are passionate about kids with disabilities I would like to suggest you learn about Natalie Weaver and her daughter Sophia. Natalie has become a tireless warrior for her daughter and other kiddos with severe disabilities. She has spoken up loudly about the importance of Medicaid for kiddos with disabilities. I get her. She is a momma bear. 

Other groups have tried to use her voice, her girl, for their agenda and she has fought back. She pushed Twitter after she was relentlessly pursued by trolls saying/posting hateful, hateful things about her precious girl. And she won. Disabilities is now also listed as hate speech by Twitter because of her. 

Today I saw her Facebook post about another internet troll. This person said she should “put her out of her misery” and “I hope you got sterilized so you can’t produce anymore defective offspring”. Hurtful, hateful stuff.

Sometimes people really, really think they’re being helpful but their comments are only slightly less hateful because they want to change your child so they’ll be “better”. Apparently it never occurs to them that you might think they are perfect exactly as they are.  I blogged about Prayer as a Weapon here. 

Natalie asked others to share her post to bring awareness about this sort of dangerous rhetoric so parents of those with disabilities can love on their kids like any other parent without the threat of someone making such horrible statements. I couldn’t agree more.

Many left supportive messages and are calling out the troll and contacting her, workplace etc. to let them know of her hate speech. What I found painful was how many essentially told her to forget about the haters or ignore them they’re not worth your time. This is especially dangerous to me. 

Should I ignore or worst yet tell my black kids to ignore racial discrimination or hate speech? Should I just ignore someone who calls my intellectually disabled kids the “R” word? Should I ignore or worst yet tell my daughters and granddaughters to ignore men who aim sexually disgusting comments at them or who touch them without their permission?

How has ignoring those things worked for us so far? Not very well I’d say. Sixty-one years ago – when I was 2 years old Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said “Darkness cannot drive out hate; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. You can not fight darkness or hate by helping it or allowing it to hide. You can only do that by bringing it to the light.

I have struggled with the use of social media to bring the BBQ Beckys and Picnic Pattys to light for various reasons but I’ve changed my mind. Social media can be the light used to drive out this hate that thrives in the shadows. When white supremists gather together and share racial bigotry, which is not necessarily by using language but also by using privilege to keep others out, or men talk with other men about women in “locker room” fashion – darkness or lack of exposure is allowing that hate to hide and thus strengthening it. When it is brought out in to the light of day it is exposed for what it truly is and right now social media is a powerful tool to do that. 

I’m sure not everyone will agree and sometimes it makes me cringe, but allowing hate to hide, ignoring it, has not worked. It continues to thrive but there are consequences when it is exposed as well there should be and as a long time parent there is absolutely nothing I like better than natural consequences and social media and all the power it has seems to be the natural consequence of our time.


Chocolate Pudding? Depends.

Yesterday as I picked Jacob up from school and we were rushing out the door two younger boys said, “Hi, Chocolate”  then a minute later added “pudding”.  I wasn’t able to process what they’d said quickly enough to have a talk with them, but I also know that would have made Jacob very uncomfortable.

I asked him if he knew the boys and he basically said they were just annoying 2nd graders.  We talked about it a bit and I told Jacob and his sister that, just like their older siblings, if they were friends or family and they called each other chocolate and vanilla or Asian and Mexican, as his siblings do, that’d be different.  If they aren’t really friends and these boys just decided that was okay to call him – it’s not.

I’ve sent an e-mail to inform the teachers and let them know I realize these boys likely meant nothing racist by it and wasn’t sure there was much they could do about it, but that I wanted them aware in case they overheard it sometime.  I also let them know that, different place, different person and the response might be much less pleasant than Jacob’s rushed “hi” back to them.

The acceptance of a nickname indicating anything to do with race has everything to do with the relationship between those people.  Those of us with young men of color whose core group of friends are a racial blend know that using names that might be slurs in another setting – just to be clear, not the “N” word, that’s never ok with me – is part of how they show their affection for each other.  Much like young men may slug each other or wrestle each other – it’s just what they do.

They tease each other with racial stereotypes – because they know it’s safe between them to do that and they’ve all had those stereotypes used against them.  Many black men use the “N” word basically in place of the word “brother”.  As an older white woman who grew up during the civil rights era – it just makes me really uncomfortable.

Just another reminder to talk to your kids about race.  It’s so often a subject white people don’t discuss, but when you don’t your kids assume there’s something bad or wrong about people whose race differs from their own.  This article Even Babies Discriminate shows that  kids do think about it and if we’re not talking about it, then they think it must be bad. Another great resource I just read is Five Myths of Talking About Race With Your Child.