He’s in tears. He’s in tears after losing another game. He’s in tears after playing in a game he loves. Tears.
I’m in tears. Tears after the loss of another game. Tears as I what I know this means for my baby boy. I feel my hands tied together. I want to pull them apart and get to work on “fixing.” I want to fix it all and then build a forcefield. But I cannot untie my hands. They seem to be strongly glued together. So instead of offering my hands, I can only offer my tears.
The drastic move from Amish land Indiana to the city of Indianapolis would be sure to give us answers the proper solutions regarding “how to fit”. As a family, I will take a bold step and permanently change our zip code in a quest to “fit.” Here in northern Indiana, the time has passed, attempts have been made, but change has not come. The ability to embrace what is different and become progressive in work that assures the end to systemic oppression is limited. The mindsets are fixed. And for my babies, there is no reference point. I am requesting that they strive for a prize to which they have no reference point. So after 20 years, we change our zip code. We step out in faith, trusting that this next chapter will provide the solution to fewer tears. Less division. More hope.
We live in this honeymoon phase. Things are hustling and bustling in our new city. We see a progression. We witness progressive efforts. I take a sigh of relief and boldly proclaim, “this will be different.” Then I begin my frantic search for an educational institution that provides a transition for my black babies. A previous small town, predominately white experience warrants a smooth transition. I begin a search that will take extensive research, numerous inquiries, and a variety of onsite and virtual visiting. The search is exhausting, and eventually, I settle. I settle for safety in fear of hurting my children, who, even from the beginning, did not burst with excitement around the involuntary zip code change. It is December, and it feels as if we are back to the drawing board. The tears are back. Similar struggles are on display. Once again, my husband and I work diligently to fit these square pegs into the various round holes and are desperate for a solution.
We feel stuck in a world where it seems at times we are too black to be white and too white to be black. I’m encouraging my children to be who they were created to be. But in their various educational institutions, they are not encouraged to be who they were created to be. So there are more tears. In those teardrops, I see a desire to fit in. I see the desperation to have ONE true friend. I see the missing invitations from peers. I hear the ridicule suggesting that my babies are “too proper.” I hear the basketball coach’s sad attempt to motivate by placing blame and increasing expectations of the brown baby who, in his mind, should be carrying the team. So there are more tears.
But my hands are still tied. I want to untie them so that I can catch the tears before they fall. I want to use them to hammer these holes into their new square-shaped form.
On January 20, 2021, I turned on my television and saw the hammering of a different hole. I see hands untied. I see progressive efforts toward ensuring equity, which comes with the realization that the shape must be changed. Have I been hammering the wrong hole? Is it possible that I am looking for my black babies to fit into a round hole that was never meant for their peg? Their peg is precious and unique. It’s been watered by tears and fertilized by the hope of what is to come. My hands are tied. But they are tied to other black mothers tirelessly hammering. I am not hammering alone, and we are not just hammering one hole. We are hammering various holes that are not created for just one particular peg. But these holes are special, and they take time. They must be watered and fertilized with tears. How special are we that we can participate in the formation process? We reflect on where we were, acknowledge the pain, and celebrate the progress as we continue to hammer and shape these new holes.