In May of 2020, the world was forced to slow down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After Memorial Day, people from around the world watched as George Floyd took his last breath while former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. For nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, we watched a man’s soul leave his body. We watched as his life was taken. We listened to him call for his Momma. People of all skin colors – from black, brown, gold, and white; from suburban moms to urban fathers; from politicians to clergy – took to the streets to protest this injustice which was not new to the Black community.
Two days ago, as I sat in my car looking at an alert that the verdict would be announced, I went through a series of emotions. I felt angry, sad, and disappointed before even knowing the outcome. Had the justice system failed us again? I felt physically ill not knowing if this man who so casually knelt on another human’s neck with his hands in his pockets would be held accountable, or if he would be allowed to go home and sleep in his own bed while George Floyd sleeps in his eternal rest. Would accountability finally occur in one of these cases?
A jury of Derek Chauvin’s peers took a little over ten hours to decide what we visually knew. Until the last of the verdicts was read, I did not realize I had been holding my breath. I exhaled for what seemed like the first time, yet there was no relief. Just minutes before the verdict was read, a fifteen-year-old Black girl in Ohio was gunned down by an officer.
The cycle continues.
Accountability in one case does not provide accountability in others. Sandra Bland’s family still wonders what transpired in her cell. Tamir Rice is frozen in time as a twelve-year-old child while his killer walks free. Officers who commit crimes against Black and brown people can often jump from city to city and state to state to find jobs, and their bad deeds are covered by unions who believe that Blue Lives Matter and they deserve more protection than the average American.
A surgeon, nurse, or any other health professional who voluntarily takes a life is held accountable. I do not fear seeing my doctor, seeing a nurse, but I fear seeing blue lights in my rear view mirror. I fear letting my six-foot-tall autistic son walk fifty feet to our mailbox. My son has been deemed a threat since he was born because of the color of his skin. I fear letting him just walk around in our front or back yard and having an overzealous neighbor call the police on the brown person lurking in his own yard.
In nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, my life could be over. Yesterday’s verdict does not bring George Floyd back. Chauvin’s attorney attempted to use the big Black guy defense. But the only thing we saw was a Black man being ripped from his family, his life placed under a microscope for the world to judge.
The verdict has been read, but he is still gone. I did not know Mr. Floyd, but in his cry for his Momma, I could hear my son’s voice and I could not reach him. One person was held accountable, but the whole system needs to go on trial now to fix what is broken.
“For Trayvon” by artist, A’driane Nieves. Acrylic on paper.
In college, I had a black professor for a “Racism in the Americas” class. The students were overwhelmingly white and there was one brown girl, who had to give the opinion of what it was like to be black in America for everyone who is black in America when it came to discussion. The professor came to class every day with a nice suit jacket on, which wasn’t common of all the liberal arts professors in the building during that time. It was a little fancy. He explained that he had to wear it. He explained that it helped him from not being pulled over by the police.
This was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing. I was 19 or 20 when I took the class, yet, I had no idea that racial profiling existed.
The professor said that he had been arrested 6 times just because he fit the description, 6 foot black male. Sometimes on his way to the university to teach his class, “Racism in the Americas”, at an esteemed private university. He said that if he was dressed up, he hoped he was less likely to get stopped. That was in the mid 90s.
Fast forward to the 2010’s and the internet has shed a great big spotlight on racism across America. And it’s HUGE. And racial profiling, IT’S STILL A THING. A really big thing. And black people being MURDERED FOR NO GOOD REASON IS A THING. We can’t turn our heads, America.
So today, I’m asking you to follow two black American women who have been very vocal in the conversation of the social injustice of black people in America. I have learned more and more about my own country from following Kelly Wickham, who founded “Being Black at School” and US veteran and artist, A’driane Nieves, also known as addyeB.
Through the site, Being Black at School, Wickham empowers “parents and educators to make the school system a safe place for black children.” You can also donate to make this happen, too.
And Nieves says, “I live for sharing my thoughts, heart, and stories through my work, be it on a canvas or written word. I also live for seeing and loving those in the margins because that is where I’ve always existed.” Not only can you read her passionate stories of activism, but you can buy her gorgeous art.
Wickham and Nieves’ messages are strong and needed in this country. They are pushing to make a difference to help end racism. They are both a HUGE inspiration to me, and I want to share them with the world.
This is an original post to World Moms Network by founder, Jennifer Burden.
Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India.
She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls.
I used to think that racism didn’t exist any more.
Growing up in the Caribbean, in a cultural mishmash of a class, I learned about the slave trade and the underground railroad as part of history. Our teacher read to us about Harriet Tubman. We saw videos of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech. We learned about Rosa Parks.
Carol from If By Yes has lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as the Caribbean. Now she lives in Vancouver, working a full time job at a vet clinic, training dogs on the side, and raising her son and daughter to be good citizens of the world.
Carol is known for wearing inside-out underwear, microwaving yoghurt, killing house plants, over-thinking the mundane, and pointing out grammatical errors in "Twilight". When not trying to wrestle her son down for a nap, Carol loves to read and write.
In the age of cellphones and social media, it’s very easy to disconnect from people without realizing you’re doing so. How many of us create walls subconsciously, especially if it concerns people of different nationalities we don’t usually associate with?
I was struck by a story of a woman who decided to set up a stand outside of a library in Cambridge, MA. Inspired by a story her husband saw on NPR titled “Ask an Iraqi”, Mona Haydar thought that it was important for her to establish a connection with those who may not know what’s it’s like to be a Muslim, especially a Muslim woman living in the United States.
For Haydar, setting up a stand titled “Talk To A Muslim” was a way for her to dispel any preconceived notions or stereotypes so many have of foreigners, especially of Muslim women.
With so many crises affecting different nationalities, in light of events happening in Syria, Haydar’s goal of creating a physical stand and waiting for people to approach her was a bold move since she had no clue how it would be received. What was surprising and hopeful was that people did stop by and spoke with Haydar, and that was a start. She was quite surprised to see how people did respond to her stand and while the reception was initially uncertain, it was enough for her to think about setting up the stand again.
In the current climate regarding people of cultures we aren’t familiar with, not willing to find out about them says more about us than them. There shouldn’t be a division of “them” and “us”, but unfortunately, there is.
How many times have we been guilty of giving in to fear of the unknown instead of taking a step back and dispelling the stereotypes we have learned about other cultures?
As someone who has had to answer questions about my nationality or religion over the years, the initial offense I felt has made me rethink of how people perceive me. Over the years, I have been mistakenly identified as either Korean or Japanese, rarely a Filipina. In addition, since I’m married to a Jewish man, I have been asked whether I’m a convert or adopted due to my Jewish maiden name, and to which I answer “no” to both. Answering these questions over the years, my frustration over being categorized primarily due to my physical appearance has made me realize that it’s not because of ignorance, but lack of communication. Asking questions and conversing about each other’s cultures would go a long way than being presumptuous about other people’s lives.
After reading about Haydar and seeing the NPR segment titled “Ask An Iraqi”, it made me wonder if we should put ourselves in Haydar’s shoes. Should we have to set up a stand in order to be understood or be compassionate towards others? Have we become so desensitized by our own prejudices that we have no room for being tolerant? I would hope not. Haydar’s stand may just be one form of starting conversations regarding one’s culture, but I think it’s an idea worth exploring. We might just realize that we may not look alike, but we all share the same intrinsic values of goodness towards humanity.
Read the original article regarding this post Here.
How do you think we can nurture better cross-cultural understanding?
World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.
Today we welcome a guest post from Tara, who is writing from Kenya. You can follow her adventures in parenting at mamamgeni.com, where she blogs about raising her family with one foot in the expat world and the other firmly planted in her husband’s homeland. As she recently discovered, finding a black doll was no easy task–in either place.
“Mommy, there are three black people and one white person in our family.” My eldest daughter enjoys pointing out the obvious. She’s referring to me (white American), my husband (black Kenyan), and her baby sister (mixed-race, just like she is). She fully identifies as black, and has recently been expressing interest in race and skin color. We want our kids to explore their cultural and racial identities, and we try to ensure our toys and books reflect the richness of both of our cultures.
My youngest recently turned one, and we decided to get her a baby doll for her birthday. More specifically, we wanted to get her a black baby doll. Should be easy, right? We live in Kenya. No, not easy. THERE ARE ALMOST NO BLACK DOLLS HERE. Whenever you see Kenyan kids playing with dolls, they are almost always little white dolls with blonde hair. White baby dolls, white Barbies, white, white, white. You can find some nice black dolls handmade out of cloth, but they tend to be mommy dolls with babies on their backs. I was looking for a realistic baby, something she could cuddle and take care of, a baby of her own.
Since I was having no luck finding what I was looking for in Kenya, I decided to look for a black baby doll while I was in the US on a recent visit. My family lives in a greater metro area that is over 50% African American. I went to a local department store, and sought out the doll section. I expected to see a choice of dolls from different ethnicities (at least black and white dolls, given the racial make-up of the city). I was wrong – there was nothing but white dolls. Row upon row of white dolls. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed white dolls. Dozens of pink boxes with white dolls inside. Not the kind of dolls I was looking for.
Why was this so hard?
In the end, I decided to search online for a black baby doll, and found one that I loved. My daughter loves it too… She walks around the house, patting her baby’s back, swaying back and forth with a big grin on her face. I had some Kenyan colleagues at my house recently, and they asked where I had found our black doll. I told them my story, and together we lamented the fact that there were so few black dolls available in a predominantly black country.
There is a market for this kind of toy here, and someone is missing out on a serious business opportunity!
It is really important to me that my children have dolls and books that reflect who they are. My eldest is always looking for people who have skin like hers, or hair like hers.
She yearns to identify with a group of people. Having black baby dolls and books featuring black characters makes a difference. Dolls may be “just toys,” but they can mean so much more to a young girl who longs to connect and identify with others like her. What are dolls like in the country where you live? Do they reflect how the people look, or are they different in any way?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mama Mgeni of Kenya.
Tara Wambugu is a wife, a mother of two, and a Kenya-based lifestyle blogger covering parenting, family life, travel, and more. A former aid worker, Tara has worked in various countries in Europe, Central Asia, Africa, and Central America. She is now a stay-at-home mom living in Nairobi with her husband and their two sassy little girls. You can follow Tara and her family’s adventures on her blog, Mama Mgeni.