“We’re black, aren’t we?”

That’s the question my friend’s five-year-old granddaughter asked her this morning. Her heart broke when she heard the question, and mine broke when she told me about it. It broke even more when she told me her granddaughter’s next question, in which she asked about a close family friend.

“She’s white, isn’t she?”

It’s not as though her granddaughter didn’t recognize the difference in skin color before, it’s just that it didn’t matter. But now it did, enough to bring questions and confusion to a child who may never be the same because of it.

My friend and her family live near Minneapolis, just a few miles from where the protests and violence have been taking place, and they could hear police and fire sirens throughout the night last night. She’s tried to shield her granddaughter from the worst of the ugliness, but that’s becoming more and more difficult.

“What do I say to her?” my friend wanted to know. She now had the impossible job of trying to explain – to a five-year-old – about the fine line between someone’s race and their humanity. Between the difference it makes to be black or white, for no other reason than whether you are black or white.

Even before I talked to her this morning, I felt like crying. I still do. When I watched the news, I was suddenly overtaken by a feeling that there was a dark cloud hanging over us – all of us – that was never going to go away. I know that’s not true, but it’s a feeling that’s difficult to shake right now.

I probably should have put a Spoiler Alert at the start of this blog post, letting you know that, unlike most of my posts, it was going to be a depressing one. I always try to look at the bright side of things, to find the blessings and lessons even in dire circumstances and awful events. But I just can’t do that right now. The situation is still too raw, too explosive. And its effect on our children brings me near tears all over again.

So there’s no positive, upbeat ending to my blog post today. I wish there were, but I can’t think of one. Instead, I’ll just pray that my friend’s granddaughter is able to hold on to the wisdom, the compassion, and the innocence she’s had up until now – at the ripe old age of five. And I’ll wish she could somehow teach them to the rest of us.

May 29, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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