A Call for Unity

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A Call for Unity - Columbia SC Moms BlogThis week has been heavy for the American people, but not more heavier than those of the African American community and families of law enforcement. No individual regardless of race, gender, or religion deserves their life to be taken innocently. In the wake of the tragedy that has taken place this week from the two innocent African American males (Alton Sterling of Louisiana and Philando Castille of Minnesota) and the 12 victims (10 who belong to the Dallas Police Department), we must recognize that this is not just an issue for African Americans or people of color, this is an issue for ALL! We as human beings must come together and support one another in the midst of our privileges.

During the month of January as we recognized Martin Luther King Jr., I shared how disheartening it is as mother to know the same society that sees the innocence in my two sons and tells them how handsome they are, is the same society who will view them as a threat because the color of their skin.

Raising males of African descent comes with a task, a great understanding that there are conversations, tips, guidelines, and protocol that must be had and established in order to protect their lives; and as we have recently seen, even when one adheres to authority, he may still lose his life. My heart this week has been so heavy as a mother, but even in the midst of these horrific events I cannot fear for the lives of my sons, but rather prepare them for the journey ahead because my faith in God is too great.

As mothers, one may question, “How do I raise my children in this society to love and be accepting of all?” The worst mistake one could make as a parent is to teach their child that race does not matter, that they are to be “color blind.” That will only set them up for failure and continue the lineage of ignorance.  Race by far matters, but not just because its been woven into the very being of our society and the foundations of America – it matters because it’s one’s ethnicity that defines their culture, their heritage, influences their legacy, and tells the beautiful story of who they are.

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So yes, “Black Lives Matter, because All Lives Matter.” While one is to understand that race matters, one must also recognize their privilege. Some of the privilege that’s held is inevitable, such as ethnicity or gender, but the disservice is not recognizing the privilege, power, and advantage that comes with it.

As mothers (and even fathers), the conversations and morals we instill began at an early age. It’s more than making the cliché statement, ” I love Black People … I love White People … My best friend is black … My best friend is white … I don’t see color at all.”

Children recognize at a young age differences between them and their peers. I recall when my daughter came home asking why her hair was not like some of her friends. She believed her father and brother were white because their skin is farer. At that point, my husband and I had to have a conversation with our daughter about race. I could not sweep it under the rug and act like it didn’t exist. She knew. Having that conversation has helped our daughter become confident with the skin she’s in, love her hair … but also appreciate and respect the differences of her peers.

As parents we have to educate our children about the injustices in society. We have to discuss breaking the vicious cycle of racism, prejudice, and injustice. This doesn’t have to be on a large scale. It can be small things like exposing your child to kid approved television shows based on lives of families outside your ethnicity. Or purchasing dolls, action figures, books with characters that don’t look like them, engaging with families/events outside your ethnicity, and talking about race, historical, societal, and world events such as the recent incidents that took place.

Also, if you are in a position of power and influence, whether it be in your community or workplace, there’s an opportunity to influence change. Don’t be afraid to have conversations with your neighbor, colleague, or friend who is a person of color about race relations. It is within the uncomfortable conversations that understanding, healing, and solutions can spring forth.

teach-your-childrenA few of my Caucasian colleagues/friends took action and spoke out to everyone on social media. One is actively engaged in the community working around race relations as an ally in WA State. Her post reads as follows….

“Killing of Black men – Not Okay, Killing of innocent Police Officers – Not Okay. There you have it! Come on people – let’s be the generation that teaches our children how to change! We can do better.” John 1 2:11 ” But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” – Claire Yarborough Ott-Lexington, SC

I had another friend write the following…

“We are not a free country if some of us living in this country are not free. We are not a just country if we do not ALL experience justice. Because I am white, I get to live in this country without fear of the police, without fear of unjust criminal convictions, of lies being told about me and my character after I am murdered. Do not turn away from what we are as a country. Philando Castile was a kind cafeteria worker at an elementary school, a son, a beloved. He was shot and murdered while sitting in his car – SITTING IN HIS CAR. My fellow white friends and family, please allow yourself to feel shock, anger, sadness and questions. What if this happened to your boyfriend? What if you were scared the police would wrongly judge your behavior because of your skin color? This happening now. This is our country.” Annie Von Essen-Seattle, WA

Parents are the first teachers and greatest influencers of their child(ren). Teaching them how to excel academically, be the best athlete, entrepreneurial, financially successful, or tech guru is great, but teaching them how to love will surpass them all.

As a parent how will you stand against hate and be a champion for change on America’s race relations?

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A small town southern belle, Ashley Thomas is a native of Sandy Run, S.C., and recently relocated back home after 10 years. She is the proud Army Spouse to Maj. Curtis A. Thomas and does not take her role lightly. Her life as military spouse has allowed her to experience her fair share of moving, transitioning in between working and as an AHM, deployments, and learning of new cultures. She is a graduate of Columbia College where she attained a B.A. in Psychology and the University of Washington-MSW. Ashley’s background is in education, child welfare, and community health. She is the mother of three amazing children (Corinne 4 ½, Caleb 2 ½, and Collin 6 months) who challenge her daily to lean more on God, stretch her faith, and never stop growing. In January 2014, Ashley ventured out to start her non-profit The Hive Community Circle. She also serves as a mentor for her alma mater Columbia College. In her free time when she can grab it, Ashley enjoys spending time with her family, being pinned up on Pinterest, baking, spending time with her hubby, and fellowshipping with her girlfriends. Besides being passionate about education and social justice, Ashley is also passionate about empowering and challenging women to walk in transparency. Her hope is that through her writings, mothers will be challenged to extend love and grace first to themselves, find inspiration and a sense of belonging, laugh a little, and once started, never stop living! You can follow Ashley on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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