Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our MLK Day (and my reflections on it)

This year we began what will be a family tradition for us - attending our city's MLK Day Rally and March, which is one of the largest annual rallies honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the country. Unfortunately the march happened at naptime so this year we just went to the rally, which was pretty fun. Highlights for J included the children's choir, the little girl sitting behind us, and the drumline that performed. (J being involved in a drumline is a small mama-wish of mine, as I myself played snare drum in one in high school.) All in all it was a fun morning, and J had a good time. It was a ton of sensory input and despite being an extrovert baby girl crashed hard and took an extra long nap as soon as we got home.

As she napped I reflected on what it felt like to participate in the rally as a family. I want to make things like the MLK rally and march and other types of community activism part of what we do together, as well as a bigger part of what I do as an individual. I want this despite the fact that it is not always comfortable for me. We weren't the only transracial family or the only white folk at the rally yesterday - but it was definitely an minority dominant space, as it should have been. My position was one of ally, a different position than the POC who participated. One of the speakers went to great lengths to say how the rally was a place for black folks, first nations folk, Hispanic folks, pacific islander folks, Asian folks, etc. to be seen and heard. "and progressive white folk" he tagged on the end. I felt grateful to be included and also to be so labeled, but I am always acutely aware when I'm in African-American or other POC spaces that I don't belong there. I am a guest, perhaps not an invited one, and sort of a dangerous guest at that. I feel this perhaps more when I walk into the Good Hair salon to pick up product for J's hair. And to some degree anytime I am out with J in the neighborhood there is something of this feeling because by mothering a black child I am, in the eyes of many black folk, in a space where I don't quite belong. They are not sure I will be able to do what needs to be done there, and I don't mind their skepticism. It is appropriate. In fact I want to look for acceptable and non-appropriative ways to engage these spaces with J more now while she is little, because she does belong there and if Andrew or I don't take her and be with her in black and minority dominant spaces she loses something. The challenge for me as a white person who is not used to feeling this way is to accept my discomfort, learn from it, and let it be what it is without allowing it keep me away or to push me into appropriating what is not mine in an effort to belong.

1 comment:

  1. Hello there!

    We have a mutual friend, Andrea, who told me I should check out your blog. I'm glad she did! You deal with many similar issues to me, past and present. I'm quite tired now, so in lieu of further explanation I'll just point you to this post:

    I look forward to reading more from you!