Our visit to the Olympic Peninsula was perfect, except for the day I cried. And then I cried again, when telling Songbird about the event that made me cry. And I’m not talking about a happy cry – I’m talking a downright disappointed, terrified, horrified, heartbreaking cry.
Our happy little family of 3 turned to leave the beach at Fort Flagler and found a large, ugly, Chevy SUV had parked next to our little Ford Focus rental car. The truck was “parked” and occupied by 2 white 20-something men; men just sitting there looking out at the ocean, and perhaps at our family. As I was lacing up my shoes, I watched as Mr. Silly Pants walked a wide circle around the truck, Blueberry held tightly in him arms. Something was not right with the way my man was looking at the truck and gripping his son. As I walked around the big truck to get to our car, where Blueberry had been lovingly tucked into his car seat, I saw what was wrong about the scene: the truck was covered in racist decals. Every inch of display space was filled. Here are three examples: there was a huge confederate flag with the words “Fear This.” There was a neo–nazi symbol of a skull gripping a rose in its mouth. There was a saying something like, “If you can’t pony up, keep your p**** a** in the truck.” This was HATE ON DISPLAY.
I carefully walked over to my son in his car seat, kissed his sweet and perfect little head, climbed in the car, looked at Mr. Silly Pants, nodded for him to move (and move fast), and then started to cry. To witness hatred so vitriolic and so public was more than I could manage. This was my first close encounter with white supremacists since Blueberry was entrusted to our care and I was broken by the reality of hate.
But there was shame for me too. The shame came from a deep place. Shame for my white privilege. Shame for my economic status. Shame for allowing racist utterances in my presence from friends and family. Shame for the racist acts and thoughts of my past – and for the future of every insidious act or thought of racism that I don’t intercept quickly enough. But mostly, I felt the shame of this realization…….During my lifetime such hate on display would have horrified me. I would have seen the truck and been disgusted by the plethora of visible signs of hatred. I would have thought the men to be jerks, pricks, idiots, stupid, and dangerous. The day on Flagler Beach was different. I was terrified. I was terrified for my son; for his life, for his well being, for his safety, for his future. Suddenly, “grow-him-up-good and send-him-off ready” was obviously NOT going to be enough for my little brown boy. And I cried as these emotions all melted together in a heavy veil of terror and a deep deep sadness. What had been a reality I saw from a certain comfortable distance, now had become personal. And, thus, the shame. (It took THIS to get me here? Why the hell didn’t I get this before? What kind of anti-racist am I?).
I love my son. I love every little sweet lovable darling adorable part of his whole person. Black is beautiful. He’s all of that and more.