Photo: These are my boys. They are all that I’ve got. It feels more and more like that lately. We make our choices and we have to be strong enough to live with them. It’s especially hard, however, when the tests and the doubts come from the people you love.
I’m so damn tired today and my thoughts are anything but quiet. I’m tired because the news is so damn bad. I’m tired because the boys are so damn high-energy. I’m tired because I feel frustrated and isolated. I’m tired because I’ve been carrying this on my shoulders since Wednesday. An excerpt:
“The thing is, your husband doesn’t understand this. He doesn’t get it. He thinks your boys look white, so this will never happen to them.”
“That’s not really true, Mom. This year has really made him reflect on all of this. Every time something happens, he’s shedding tears right next to me.”
“Yeah, but Kyra, he is never going to get it. He’s not going to be able to train those boys in the ways of being Black boys. Your boys have to spend time with other Black boys who are getting the training. They have to be Black boys together, you know? They need the education with other Black boys for it to really sink in.”
“Well, mother, maybe it starts with them spending more time with their Black grandparents. Maybe you should spend more time with them!”
“Oh yes, I hope we can spend more time with the boys. I hope we can get them down here more often–”
“–Mom, that’s not what I mean. I mean that you should–”
“–Look. I’m saying that I know you’re doing your best. Your circumstances are impossible. This is not something that’s possible to teach in Massachusetts.”
“Maybe I should look into Jack & Jill or something after all…”
“Oh no, that’s not helpful, either. That’s a different sort of people… those aren’t the right lessons. You know, we’ve gotta think about it. We’ve gotta make sure that the messaging for those little boys is clear. We’ll talk about it more when you come home.”
It doesn’t take much for the raw and real and unexpected to bubble up to the surface, does it, Dear Reader? Those are real words from my real mother, unsolicited during a phone call on Wednesday evening. When we still thought that what was happening in California was a mass shooting, my mom and I began venting about the Planned Parenthood shooting and how, magically, white men who commit these sorts of crimes get to be carefully escorted away from the scene, while Black men walking in a non-threatening way can be put down with 16 bullets in their backs. The injustice of it is frustrating, and that’s what we were talking about.
Then my mother needed to make it a proxy war. She needed to make it about my marriage.
I don’t even know why. The whole thing was so entirely unnecessary. My husband isn’t the enemy. He isn’t part of the police industrial complex. He isn’t part of the horribly inequitable justice system. He’s a white man, yes, recipient of all of the privilege that the world can bestow upon an existence…
but he isn’t the enemy here. People in interracial marriages aren’t brokers in the greater race wars, liaisons available for parley between warring factions. We aren’t the pieces on the larger chessboard, guilty parties of long-standing wrongs, nor conduits for the great mistrust between two groups. In other words, if you’ve got baggage, don’t leave it at the alter of my marriage, please. Don’t leave it at the alter of any interracial marriage.
Besides: do you really think I don’t know?
Do you think that he doesn’t know?
Do you really believe that we aren’t thinking about our boys and their life in this inequitable world on a daily basis? That we’re not worried about it? That it doesn’t keep us up at night?
How in the world, Mother, did you think you were being helpful?
The truth of the matter is, she didn’t think she was being helpful. She didn’t really actually give a shit about the words that she was saying. She just decided that the words were in her head and thus should be spoken. This decision revealed how little she regards my husband and how little she regards me as well. As if somehow I’m so thoughtless, so incapable, without agency or urgency when it comes to my children
she couldn’t listen to me tell her that she has a dog in the fight, too. That she should be here, visiting, telling her stories, teaching her lessons. Be an active part of these boys’ village and shit. She has a role to play. If she doesn’t want to be part of that, cool. Don’t, however, tell me about what “needs” to be done when you aren’t willing to invest any of yourself to make it happen.
It’s so easy to speak, Dear Reader. It’s so easy to spew. We live in a world where it seems like words come cheap and easy, meaningless and even useless. We speak and get instant gratification: there is always someone out there to agree with you. There is always someone out there who will tell you to go to hell. We opine without reservation, forethought or reflection. My thought has been thought and therefore it matters, and I’ve sent it into the world and you should just deal with it. Sorry, not sorry. Don’t be so fucking sensitive. Life is life, and it’s not a daycare. Grow up and deal with it.
Except, you know, bullshit.
Words have meaning. Their weight comes from context. Their impact is deep and often unwavering. They aren’t things that can be thrown away. Words tangle up in the threads of fate and relationship, knotting and weaving through, shortening or strengthening. Words are never without bite or honey, they never dissipate without landing. They bounce around in our memories, whisper in the quiet moments when there is no where to hide. They are the greatest weapons, the best hope for peace.
And so I’m sitting here with my quiet thoughts. Tired. A little heart broken. Significantly less excited to go home for the holidays. A little less enthusiastic about giving my mother that big hug that I only get to give her once every six months. I’m sitting here with my quiet thoughts thinking about what wasn’t said, what can’t be said when I see her, what should be said instead. I’m sitting here thinking about how home isn’t home anymore. Home, maybe, finally, is here. Maybe home has been here all along. I should have told my mother where to go, fought more vigorously on my husband’s behalf. I know exactly who my husband is and how hard he works and how much he’s thinking about this. I don’t need outside voices in this regard.
Especially outside voices that aren’t willing to show up.
Dear Reader, it’s a cold day. Mild for December, but still cold. The sun is setting so early and it will rise later than I’d like it to. The light is dim, but it’s still there. So am I. And since I’m here and it’s Friday, I’ve got wishes for you: for warm words and extensions of help during a crazy time of year. For a phone call to or from a loved one, an opportunity for you to tell someone you love them. I wish you a good glass of red wine and a sugar cookie with a snowflake on it. Maybe a little time to snuggle up to a good book, too. Don’t forget to think about others are you are out ding your holiday shopping–a few canned goods, some non-perishable items, some warm mittens or a lovely scarf given to the right organization can really make the holiday season bright for one of your neighbors this year. Keep them in your thoughts and do something kind. Actually, do a few kind things this weekend. Bring just a little bit of light into the world. Above all, remember that you are loved and that you are worthy of that love, Dear Reader.
Until Monday, take care.