Transracial Parenting: that time my boss used a racial slur

Did I ever tell you about that time I quit my job because my boss used a racial slur?

No? Probably because I was, in a way, trying to protect him. You see, I know ^he didn’t really mean it^. He was ^just joking^. He honestly thought he was being funny. Really. He was in a room full of white women, who knew that he was kidding, so no harm, right? Except….

Three years ago I wouldn’t have quit my job over it. It would have made me uncomfortable, but I would have ignored his behavior, as my co-workers did, because he was kidding. ^Obviously.^ And he was my boss. Three years ago, I probably wouldn’t haveTransracial parenting: that time my boss used a racial slur mentioned it to my husband that evening at home. Except….

Except….

Except the ^joke^ was that I should call my son this racial slur.

You know, to get him used to hearing it….

I couldn’t stop thinking about being at a company/family event and any of my boys hearing him say something like that. A co-worker assured me that he would never say anything like that in front of Squirm. As though that made it okay.

My white privilege (aided by my professional qualifications, tbh) allowed me to find a new job pretty quickly. And my white privilege allows me to tell people this story without being accused of Playing the Race Card.

Three years ago, I was one of those people who was offended by the concept of white privilege – how dare anyone suggest that I hadn’t worked hard and earned everything in my life?

And then I became a mother to a black son and I had to educate myself. Eventually I realized that acknowledging the existence of white privilege doesn’t mean that I haven’t worked hard for the things I have or that I didn’t earn my advanced degree and professional qualifications. To paraphase an amazing white privilege analogy, acknowledging white privilege means acknowledging that life is skewed in ways I’ve never realized or had to think about, precisely because they are skewed in my favor.

Three years ago, I was one of those people arguing that Confederate Flag is about ^Heritage, not Hate^, and the War Between the States was fought over states rights.

And then I became a mother to a black son and I had to educate myself. I learned that all the things I had been taught – and adamantly regurgitated – were untrue. The Civil War really was about Slavery. Yes, even my beloved home state of Texas seceded because the northern states refused to return slave owners’ property – human beings – to a state where one person could legally own another. I also learned that the “Southern Cross” wasn’t terribly popular after the Civil War – it certainly wasn’t seen as symbol of a proud heritage…. In fact, the Confederate Battle Flag didn’t gain popularity until it was used by several racist politicians as a symbol of protest and defiance against desegregation.

Three years ago, I wouldn’t have unfriended people for defending a certain cop in McKinney, Texas. In fact, I’m ashamed to say, I may very well have been among those blaming the child who was assaulted, thrown to the ground, and sat on by a grown-ass man. And I will be honest enough to admit that my stance on the issue would most likely have had more to do with the color of her skin, than the badge on his chest. ^Not that I was racist – NO! I was colorblind!!^ It’s just that, well, you know, some people have no respect for the laws….

And then I became a mother to a black son and I had to educate myself….

I thank God everyday that I have become a mother to two black sons. And that I’m no longer the person I was three years ago.

I became the mother of two black sons and I had to educate myself

Two days ago, Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater. Three years ago I may have noticed, but I would have had no appreciation for the accomplishment that truly is…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hint: It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.

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17 Comments

  1. Jill

    Beautifully written. I agree with so much of what you say.
    I have my own racial remark story. It’s been almost 2 years and I haven’t had the courage to write about it yet. I still cringe when I think of it.
    Jill recently posted…6 things to do after a blogging conferenceMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jamie Nestrick (Post author)

      Thank you. It took me a while to write… Mainly because I’m so ashamed of the way I used to think… I look forward to reading your story when you’re able to share it.

      Reply
  2. madeleine melcher

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
  3. Shannon

    Amen. And I love your sarcasm font.
    Shannon recently posted…When all you can do is sitMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jamie Nestrick (Post author)

      Thanks you. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Luanita Klittich

    Not only do you bring up some amazing points but it’s done in such a poetic way that it’s not just a statement it’s a work of art. Thank you for being so honest and talking about something that is not an easy topic to bring up.

    Reply
    1. Jamie Nestrick (Post author)

      Well thank you! What a lovely thing to say!!

      Reply
  5. Jenni

    I think we are both thinking about the same issues this week. And we have walked a similar road in acknowledging our white privilege and educating ourselves on the racial issues that are so prevalent. And I am sad to realize that I didn’t take a stronger stance before. Great post, and I totally got the sarcasm/snark 🙂
    Jenni recently posted…When Rejection Turns into Something WonderfulMy Profile

    Reply
  6. Lori Lavender Luz

    This is such a testament to how life experiences can make one so much more compassionate and deliberate about words, beliefs and actions.

    P.S. Your sons are so handsome.
    Lori Lavender Luz recently posted…Denying Adoption vs Dwelling on It: When to TellMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jamie Nestrick (Post author)

      Thank you! We think they are pretty special!

      Reply
  7. Erin

    I related to so much of this post. There are a lot of things I would have laughed off or shrugged off in the passed that I could never let fly today. I wish I had been a better ally before, but I am glad to know now and to be abe to support my kids.
    Erin recently posted…8 Real Responses to Your Child’s BoredomMy Profile

    Reply
  8. Susan Young

    Thanks for that. As a grandparent if a bi-racial child, I can relate.

    Reply
  9. Mama Bear

    I have southern friends who have argued the opposite side of the confederate flag which didn’t sit right with me. I appreciate your point of view, it makes more sense to me.

    Reply
  10. Karen @ mummy do it

    Thanks for sharing with the #BlogFair – this was one of our most popular links this week! Hope you can visit again this week. I really appreciate your honest insight, without being judgemental, on this topic.
    Karen @ mummy do it recently posted…Top ten cleaning and organising posts from my first year of bloggingMy Profile

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Blog Fair Link Up #13 | mummy do it

  12. Mickey

    You write beautifully, your children are beautiful and I am so glad that you all found each other. Children learn what they live and your children will surely learn acceptance of all people which these days can be a difficult lesson to learn. We follow each other on Instagram and I had a chance to visit and see what your blog was all about. I hope you get a chance to visit me at mybashfullife.com and say hello. Have a great week. xoxo Mickey
    Mickey recently posted…Good Things!My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jamie Nestrick (Post author)

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Mickey!

      I look forward to checking out your blog!

      Reply

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