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We will not be silent

Mama’s Losin’ It

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.

We will not be silent

If my words have touched your heart today, won’t you please share them?

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{ 19 comments… add one }

  • Denise April 25, 2013, 8:46 am

    Glad you can use that moment to strengthen the future generations. That is very important.
    Denise recently posted..Minted Review And Giveaway

    • RChicken April 25, 2013, 3:52 pm

      I had to find a silver lining. The reality of the moment has weighed heavily upon my heart.

  • May April 25, 2013, 9:10 am

    That kind of talk is so far from what I am used to hearing, I think I might have found myself too stunned to speak as well.
    May recently posted..A Strange Gift

    • RChicken April 25, 2013, 3:53 pm

      I had never had to confront that kind of small-minded ignorant thinking. Threw me for a complete loop.

  • Teresa April 25, 2013, 11:22 am

    One never knows quite what to say in a situation like that, but I’m glad your response is to make sure your children understand that it’s not acceptable. Strength for years from momentary weakness is the best response ever.
    Teresa recently posted..Shattered

    • RChicken April 25, 2013, 5:28 pm

      I’m hoping that my 44 year old actions will make up for my 27 year old inaction.

  • Stephanie @ CrayonMarks&TigerStripes April 27, 2013, 8:06 am

    I find that kind of talking offensive too and I really don’t want my children to hear it, at least while I can protect their little ears. Some of my husbands family likes to cuss and I really don’t want them to do it around my children. I’m going to have to say something to them soon because the toddler has become a parrot! Stopping by from Sits Sharefest :)
    Stephanie @ CrayonMarks&TigerStripes recently posted..{Fitness Friday} Insanity Fit Test #3

    • RChicken April 28, 2013, 10:09 am

      It’s a tricky situation when dealing with family.

  • Rachel Cotterill April 27, 2013, 3:10 pm

    This is such a beautiful story. If there’s one thing certain in life, it’s that we will all make mistakes (all the time). Being able to live with that, and learn from it, and get better and stronger for it, is all that we have. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring tale :)
    Rachel Cotterill recently posted..Patterns in the Sand

    • RChicken April 28, 2013, 10:10 am

      Thank you for stopping by! I had to find the silver lining in the weakness of my younger days….glad I did!

  • Patty April 27, 2013, 4:34 pm

    I’m always surprised when I hear conversations like that now. It just doesn’t make any sense. So what if someone is different. When did “different than you” become wrong or inferior. I just don’t get it.
    Patty recently posted..Chicken Tortilla Bake

    • RChicken April 28, 2013, 10:11 am

      I don’t get it either. And I’ve made sure the boys see difference as a positive, not something to be feared or vilified. Thank you for your comment :)

  • CyndyNewsome April 28, 2013, 12:43 am

    Honestly, speaking out may not have helped. In my experience sometimes it only makes it worse and/or they make a point to not say it in front of YOU while saying “SHE doesn’t like that kind of talk”with a big eyeroll.
    Yeah, I’ve been around WAY too many ignorant racists in my life.
    I did always make a point to let my children now how wrong that behavior was and I think I did a good job of that, as they now have friends of all colors, shapes, sizes, preferences, etc….

    • RChicken April 28, 2013, 10:13 am

      You’re are likely right on target — speaking up only would have made them say it more in order to “get to me” — good point!

  • Corinna May 1, 2013, 12:06 pm

    I have left a nice dinner at a restaurant with ‘friends’ because someone made raciest comments. I took a taxi home and never spoke to those people again. If we do not say something, they will think it is ok.
    Corinna recently posted..Front Porches: Makeover

    • RChicken May 1, 2013, 8:29 pm

      I don’t think I’ll ever be silent about it again. My silence before simply steeled my resolve to never be silent again.

  • Charlotte May 2, 2013, 10:59 pm

    Such a tough and sticky situation. I have been in something similar with an ex. We used to argue about this constantly because he would throw out racial slurs like it was nothing. And derogatory comments about my Jewish relatives in jest. It was maddening and disgusting but you know, I felt like I was just wasting air when we spoke. Nothing seeped through.

    You are teaching your children from right and wrong and that is incredibly important and something you should be immensely proud of. The fact that they know no color and judge their friends by what’s in their hearts speaks loudly about the way you raised them :)
    Charlotte recently posted..Shabby Apple Giveaway

    • RChicken May 6, 2013, 7:48 am

      Thanks, Charlotte! I am proud of the advocates they have become…the accepting people they are. And, while I wish sometimes that my life had never intertwined with the ex’s, if it hadn’t I would have these boys!

  • Joe May 30, 2013, 10:29 pm

    Good job! I haven’t found myself in a situation like that in some time, but I know it took me almost four decades to reach the point where I felt strong enough to not just “let it slide.” Thank you for passing on a little intolerance for intolerance.
    Joe recently posted..On Being The Clouds

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