In Baby R’s little book, there’s a page dedicated to her firsts. First time she rolled over (3 months). First time she slept through the night (1 month). First time she sat up unsupported (5 months). It’s a nice sheet of stock paper that I am slowly filling up with important milestones of her development, where I’m even adding footnotes for other firsts (her first teeth–4 months, her first crawl–just this past week!). In case you were wondering, the photo above is from months ago.
In light of this past week’s events, there needs to be a page reserved for her other firsts. The more realistic ones that I know she’ll soon experience, the same moments that I went through, those memories burned into my brain because, jesus fucking christ, how wrong is this world that we live in?
I’m not talking about the times I got hit in the face with a basketball or when I didn’t get the coveted lead role in our sixth grade production of Monopoly. I mean those important dates of When Shit Got Stupid That Made Me Question Why We Brought Another Human Into The Universe.
The first entry would be November 24, 2014, when a grand jury decided to not indict Michael Brown’s killer.
The second entry would be tonight, December 3, 2014, when another grand jury decided that Eric Garner’s killer wouldn’t go to trial, either.
This past week, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been filled with outrage, trending hashtags, photos of protests and utter disbelief. And usually, this would make me swell with pride, that yes, my social community feels the same way that I do, that there is some sort of weird notion of justice over injustice. Like, if so many people come together and point out what’s wrong, then at least something must be right in the world.
But there’s a little heartbreak when you look up to see your wee little 7 month old as she squeals and shakes her favorite toy at your feet. Because while your community is ready to march and riot as much as they can online, this (not so) tiny little girl has no idea what’s going on. Okay, I’m not talking about the pitfalls of social media slacktivism or how at the end of the day (I hate that phrase SO MUCH) all that matters is your family, but no matter how many years you’ve gone through, how much you’ve read, how many hardships you’ve seen people face, she hasn’t yet.
Here’s what I want to write on that page of Other Firsts: I’m really sorry. I’m sorry that you’re living in a country where progress seems achingly slow. I’m sorry that the black babies your age will face a harsher world than you. I’m sorry that those black boys are growing up in a system that will most likely fail them. I’m sorry that you’ll one day learn about the Civil Rights movement, the LA riots, the police brutality cases and so forth, and realize that we haven’t really done much since then. Or, even worse, that there are so many people who still don’t believe or refuse to understand.
I’m sorry that you probably won’t be paid as much as your male colleagues. I’m sorry that if you’re ever sexually assaulted, your school will probably ignore you. I’m sorry that rape culture exists, that having children comes with some sort of systemic penance, that you’ll have to work extra hard to overcome the obstacle that is your gender. I’m sorry that some jerk out there will inevitably mock you for your background. I’m sorry that many more will (possibly unknowingly) judge you based on the color of your skin. I’m sorry that everyone will continue to set expectations on you because of your appearance or your name, but will deny doing so when you call them out on it.
I’m also sorry that with the way things are set up right now, you have automatically been given your own set of privileges. I’m sorry that you’ll probably learn this the hard way, and that by the time you accept them, enough people would have already been hurt or wronged from it.
I’m rambling. It’s clear that I haven’t really written anything in the past several months because right now, I can’t make any sense of what I’m typing. Except maybe this.
Is it possible to feel the loss of someone else’s innocence before they’re even aware of it?