When the murders in Charleston occurred almost two weeks ago, anyone with a brain in their head did a lot of soul-searching. A lot of bloggers, speakers– people with online platforms, whatever they call themselves– put their own soul-searching out there, and challenged others to do the same. One of my favorite thinkers, Brené Brown, said this:

We have to examine and own stereotypes and prejudices. Every single one of us has them…We will need to sit down with our children and talk about privilege…No blaming or shaming, but truth… it’s not honest to deny that many of us are afforded privileges based on who we are and what we look like.

I agreed with that challenge. I promised myself I would have that conversation with my children. I mean, sooner or later.

But then. Other bloggers, like Luvvie, wanted all of us to go even further:

luvvie

I agreed with what Luvvie was saying. It was just: my platform is small. There’s nothing I could say that wasn’t being said better. And so I thumbs-upped, and I liked, and I retweeted.

But I maintained my comfortable silence.

Last week I was on vacation with my kids at a “family resort” in the Poconos. The sun was out, the pool area was crowded but peaceful. Then, all at once, about one hundred high school kids showed up, on a senior class trip for the day. They were loud, they were raucous, they started cannonballing into the pool, and they sort of took over.

Every one of those high school seniors was a person of color.

Everyone else was white.

“They’re being so loud!” one of my kids said.

“They’re all playing basketball in the pool and now I can’t!” another one of my kids said.

“They’re only here for today,” a woman at the pool bar told me. “Believe me, I checked.”

I thought about McKinney. This was not that. No one was telling these children they were unwelcome. No one was starting a fight. But I couldn’t help but wonder if their enthusiasm felt more out-of-place because of the color of their skin. If it weren’t the observers’ assumptions about race that made their behavior seem inappropriate. Rather than anything they were actually doing.

So I watched these kids. And here’s what I learned: they were having a great time. And they were really loud. And so what. When my kid complained again about their being boisterous, I pointed out that these kids had come two hours on a school bus to spend an hour in the pool. And that they were doing nothing but celebrating.

It’s a small thing. I don’t expect to be patted on the back for that story. Just the opposite: I feel very uncomfortable writing about it. What if I got it wrong? What if I said something insensitive without even realizing it. What if my intentions– to try to see things clearly– aren’t enough to overcome the unintentional biases I still don’t even know I have?

Charleston was almost two weeks ago. The time for writing about racism would seem to have passed, at least for those of us who don’t usually grapple with social and political issues in our writing.

But while I drove our family home from that vacation, while all three of my kids were asleep in the back seat, I listened to President Obama’s absolutely historic eulogy for the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney.  And here’s what stuck with me most:

…it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again.

And so I’m breaking that comfortable silence. I’m ready to speak out. And listen. And learn.

 

The Songs That Made Me

This month Rolling Stone has been asking recording artists for lists of the Music That Made Them. Nancy Davis Kho of the blog Midlife Mixtape: For the Years Between Being Hip and Breaking One asked some of her friends if we might contribute our own lists of the songs that made US, super-cool mom bloggers that we […]

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I thought my kids had outgrown LEGOs. I was wrong.

Once upon a time, my two sons– like most children their ages– were truly LEGO-obsessed. Once upon a time, their Christmas lists were all LEGO. Their birthday parties were LEGO-themed. I, who am no baker, even made a LEGO cake. I probably didn’t need to point out the “not a baker” part, based on the photo. But […]

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join Listen To Your Mother: NYC at Barnes & Noble on Friday May 8th!

            If you’re in the NYC area, please join me this Friday night at the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble (82nd and Broadway) for a free reading and signing event to celebrate the new anthology LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER, as part of The Museum of Motherhood’s “Art of Motherhood” […]

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momcation: achieving the escape velocity required

No matter which Real Housewives variation one might watch– and I’ve watched, uh, a few– most of the dramatic action within any given city’s season involves talking about “just getting away with the girls” shopping to get away with the girls getting away with the girls I suppose no one has ever watched Real Housewives for its firm […]

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It’s Publication Day for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!

Last week I went to a staged reading of a play with a plot that pretty much hinged on the would-you-believe? notion of a CONFERENCE. For MOMMY BLOGGERS. Cause, like, why would they need a conference? What would those silly women have to talk about? Six years ago, I met Ann Imig at a blogging conference. […]

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Dear Amelia Bedelia: what the hell is the matter with you?

My first-grader was recently given the assignment of writing to her favorite fictional character. She picked Amelia Bedelia. While “favorite” may be a stretch– as you will soon see– I thought my seven-year-old’s questions were excellent and deserved a larger forum. So here it is: an Open Letter to Amelia Bedelia. Dear Amelea bdelea wiy […]

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how far should you push your kid? finding the “optimal push”

I recently watched HBO’s documentary State of Play: Trophy Kids, directed by Peter Berg, creator of the TV series Friday Night Lights. (Since I still have my What Would Tami Taylor Do? bumper sticker on my car, I think Peter Berg has  modern parenting agita nailed.) Trophy Kids follows four youngsters with have undeniable talents in their respective sports, but […]

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what is the one best opportunity in your life? (and why aren’t you pursuing it?)

Like most mothers I know, I am also my household’s COO, overseeing everything from who needs new basketball sneakers to where that plug is for that thing. And like most mothers I know, the permission slips and medical forms and airline cost-comparisons and overdue taxes expand to fill all space available, everything I can give them, […]

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is it okay to have a “Santa Whisperer” at Christmas?

Is a “Santa Whisperer” a necessary evil at Christmas? You know, someone who knows exactly what you want and then tells your husband, lest you get a PajamaGram? I know all too well about that, by the way. I suppose that’s not the sort of thing that could happen twice; I am lucky enough to have […]

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on rushing and gratitude

Today a very wholehearted friend of mine posted this on Facebook and made my head explode:   Remember, if you are criticizing, you are not being grateful. If you are blaming, you are not being grateful. If you are complaining, you are not being grateful. If you are feeling tension, you are not being grateful. […]

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Do your kids make their own beds?

Our children’s school principal always takes advantage of our monthly PA meetings to offer those gathered some parenting wisdom. This might be obnoxious if it wasn’t always such good advice, and usually easy to adopt. (I should be reading my children The Complete Works of Beatrix Potter? Done.) But then there was last week. “This morning […]

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How old is too old to trick-or-treat?

Is there a mandatory retirement age for trick-or-treating? Is there a maximum allowable height beyond which you stay home and open the door? I ask because my son Connor is in 6th grade, taller than both grandmothers, and is more gung-ho about this year’s trick-or-treating plans than ever. At least about the collecting candy part. The costume choice has […]

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Bake It Happen 2014- raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research!

It’s October, which is important for two reasons: it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s the season to eat as many pumpkin-flavored things as possible. Since these are two admirable endeavors, I’m combining them into one delicious awareness- and money-raising endeavor by participating in Bake It Happen again this year. Bake it Happen was started by […]

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