Many years ago, I remember being at a family function on my former husband’s side of the family.
As conversation tends to do when people are all gathered in one place, the banter turned from pop culture to politics and religion.
And before I knew it, someone was tossing around the N word.
I remember being shocked. Because in my world, raised by my family, such language (and by association, the derogatory meaning of such language) was never part of my upbringing. I quite simply didn’t quite know what to say.
I was new to the family, had my hands full with an infant son, and remember being completely offended, but yet not able to use my voice to declare my offense.
In hindsight, it seemed as though that was the worst possible move. Even if raising my voice to express my horror at the use of derogatory language referring to ANY group of people would have meant alienation from the people who spoke the words, I should have done so.
But I must also remember that in the intervening years, I have worked diligently to make sure that my children never sit by and allow someone to denigrate another person — or group of people. I have raised children who know how to respectfully raise a question. Who know how to accept others. Who are not threatened by someone being different in color, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.
My children have friends who were born into a gender that doesn’t match their brain. My children have friends of different faiths — everything from fundamental Christianity to atheism. My children have friends of many colors — of skin and of hair. My children do not know the restrictive nature of prejudice and discrimination. They know openness. They know kindness. They know their friends by their names. Not by their labels.
We accept and celebrate the diversity of the people who are connected to our family.
I’m not certain I would have been so determined to make sure that happened unless I had made that one mistake many holiday gatherings ago.
My one-person timidness has evolved to the boldness of three.
And we will not be silent.
If my words have touched your heart today, won’t you please share them?