Monday, February 9, 2015

On Racism and Politics and Children


Tiny Pants finds a lot of things wrong with the world, and when he grows up he's going to get to work changing laws. I think he'd make a great politician, because he's smart, charming, and has a flexible view of truth. His brother has too strong of a moral code to make it in politics. 

Right now Tiny Pants has two pressing issues on his agenda:

1. Eminent Domain (He feels very strongly that no one should be able to force you to sell your house to put up a Target or a highway. He feels it's un-American.)

2. Saving tigers  (He thinks we should adopt them and take them home to protect them from hunters.  Seeing as that's not possible, he wants stricter laws against hunting, like life in prison.)

We were driving yesterday, which seems to be when we have a lot of important discussions. This is kind of inconvenient, because I am only half able to form good answers while avoiding hitting other vehicles. Driving is not my best skillset. 

TINY PANTS:  Mama, was Martin Luther King Jr. shot because he changed the law?

MAMA:  Yes. (A little simplified, but I was driving after all.)

TINY PANTS:  Well, I want to change the law, too, but I don't want to be killed. 

And that right there is the problem with the world. 

MAMA: Well, he was changing all of society. A lot of people back then didn't think black people were as good as white people. They weren't allowed to go to the same restaurants.

TINY PANTS: They had to use different drinking fountains and sit at the back of the bus and go to different schools. 

MAMA: Right.  The word for people who think one color is better than another is racist. And a lot of racist people were angry to see things change. (I struggled to explain why someone would think this.)  They weren't very nice people.  I think people are a lot nicer now. (Lie)  I don't think anyone would shoot you for changing laws now.  Laws get changed every single day in this country and no one gets shot over it.

Of course I instantly thought of all the school shootings and how he has more of a chance of being shot going to school than as a member of congress. I didn't say that, of course.  But I thought it. 

I wanted to say that all the big fights, the ones that enrage people like racism, are over and solved and in the past.  But that's too big of a lie to tell him. 

Oh people, can't we learn to behave better so I can explain things more easily to my six year old? He just wants to protect tigers and not let the government force people out of their homes.  He doesn't know things like racism and sexism and homophobia still exist, and that people still get so crazy they shoot each other over them.  He doesn't know it's still not legal for his grandmothers to marry in our state. He doesn't know that Mama gets hate mail for writing about feminism. He doesn't know that people are shot every day over race in this country.

I want him to change the world. And I want the world to be safe enough for him to fight to change it.

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