We experience, we teach, we grow.

Eli Russell,
Austin, TX.

As a writer, these six words are something I’ve said before. I lend it here to hopefully add to the growing conversation, to close the divide in the races, to open racist minds and to unite all Americans, all people across the world in peace. It is up to each generation to take our experiences, teach our children the history and where they come from, so that future generations can learn from our mistakes and do better. We must do these things for a better future for our children and their children. There need never be another Charleston. There need never be another Ferguson. It is imperative to keep the conversation going to keep the past from repeating itself. There’s another 6 words. “History doesn’t have to repeat itself.” It’s so hard for me to watch all the news coverage on these racially divided and chaotic events. Not just because it is so painful, because it is. It’s so profoundly, soul-shatteringly heartbreaking. But it’s hard for me to watch because it’s uncomfortable. As a half Caucasian, half black woman who grew up in rural Texas, living with my white mother and my father out of the picture, “Black” history didn’t exist yet. This was in the 1990’s. There was only one type of history and black people had nothing to do with it after the abolishment of slavery. Or so I thought.

I still remember the first day I met the other black child who started coming to or school. It was like a starring contest. (We weren’t the right color to be friends with the white kids and we couldn’t speak Spanish so we were even shunned by the Hispanic children, who were also discriminated against, but could take solace in the insular nature of their culture and feel better about themselves by excluding me, and now “Tyson”.) We couldn’t believe our eyes. We were no longer alone in that predominantly white school. The same predominantly white school where my 1st grade teacher slapped me across the face and screamed the ‘N’ word at me. The only black history I was taught was passed to me from my Caucasian mother. But she couldn’t give me exact dates, all the battles fight and won on behalf of The Civil Rights Movement. Even if I did think my mother was the smartest person in the world and had all the answers when I was six years old, it turns out she didn’t. This is why it’s so important to me to learn what I should have learned about my heritage and history. I want to add that to what I experience in my life, to teach my children and their children so that future generations don’t have to live through the past repeating itself. They can learn from our mistakes and actively help to grow our society. My partner Scott (who is British and Caucasian) are both very much human rights advocates and activists. We want to teach our children to question everything, to live life with a purpose and to love all of humanity as though they were blood relatives. So six words- “We experience, we teach, we grow.”

 

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