Last week, I saw this Old Navy ad in my Facebook feed. My heart leaped with joy seeing a multiracial family. So I took a screen shot and sent it to my husband and some friends with about a dozen heart-eye emojis.
I was so comforted to see ads depicting a family that looks like mine.
A family that is more than one color. Because love knows no color. And family isn’t defined by the color of our skin.
Then I opened Facebook again this week.
And a trending topic is about how Old Navy is being criticized for posting an ad with an interracial family.
Are you kidding me? Why is this even a thing?
It’s a thing because, even though we’re well past the 1960s, racism is still alive today whether we want to believe it or not. And because social media gives everyone a bull horn, these creeps have caught the attention of the mass media and made their way into my Facebook trending topics section. And now I’m writing a post about it because, well, it is a *thing,* and as a white mother of two black children, I don’t have the option to ignore these bigots. No one should ignore these bigots. We should shut it down as fast as possible. Whatever that looks like, however it’s done.
The response in support of Old Navy has sent out an overwhelming “Bye Felicia” to their hate. And to that, I send the internet all my fist bumps. The internet has used its power for good to shut these *bleeps* down. And I can’t help but think that the people in this world who are offended and angry about an innocent store ad like Old Navy’s are the same people who will look at my children as less than human. And that’s poking this mama bear.
So here I am, writing a post about opinions that don’t even deserve my attention because feeding the trolls is like brushing your teeth with Oreos. But this isolated incident involving Old Navy’s ad is a small piece to a greater problem.
It’s showing us that racism still exists. It is still a fight to defeat it and stand up for what’s right. Whether or not we experience racism or see it ourselves doesn’t negate its existence.
One of the most beautiful stories I’ve heard about skin color is from an artist named Neil Harbisson. In this video, Harbisson explains his complete, grayscale colorblindness and the use of an antenna to allow him to hear colors using tones to tell him what color he is seeing. Each specific color is assigned a tone, and as he looks out into the world, he can understand what color he is looking at based on the tone he hears. He says he used to see people as either black or white, but after having the antenna implanted into his head to be able to hear the color of people’s skin, he could hear that black people are dark orange and white people are light orange. “We are all sharing in the exact same hue,” he explains.
Harbisson’s observation about skin color doesn’t dismiss the trials each race faces. It’s merely evidence that we shouldn’t base our opinions on a person based on the color of their skin because, essentially, we are all the same hue, woven from the same fabric.
I usually like to discuss topics like race and racism in a mature, open, respectable manner, but Harbisson’s point makes me want to send out a resounding “Suck it, racists!” to those who spread hate based on skin color. I want to remind them that they share the same hue with the people they hate. People will still make their opinions based on skin color. It’s sad and painful to admit, but that’s the world we live in.
However, it’s our job to fight it. And that’s why I’m writing this post. To fight it. I don’t always know how to fight it, but I will say that I won’t stand for it. I will stand for what is right and what is loving and what is truth – which is that we are all created equal and deserve the same rights and respect no matter the color of our skin.
We can have conversations about race. We need to have conversations about race. As a matter of fact, I love it, and I think it’s important. It’s important for us to gain a world view that is unlike our own in order to gain more empathy and compassion for others. I love talking to people who don’t look like me or live like me and ask them what their life experiences have been. It lets me into a world outside my own white-girl existence. I want to live a life of empathy, where I’m compassionate toward others’ life experiences without dismissing their perceptions because of my own life experiences.
So let’s engage in these conversations. Let’s ask our neighbor’s and strangers and friends what their life has been like. And let’s not try to relate, but rather listen with an open heart and mind and accept their stories for what they are – theirs.
But trolls, we will not have the conversation filtered through hate.
Hate gets dismissed. Hate gets silenced. Mama bears like me and my friends and acquaintances and total strangers will make sure that your hate has no voice so our children can grow up in a place that is more free and loving than it has ever been.
Because ultimately, hate gets demolished by love.