Today, March 11, is my daughter’s birthday.
I could write blog after blog about my failures as a parent, failures that my child has apparently mostly decided to ignore.
But I want to take a moment to write about some things I did well, some things that created a new family tradition that will be a legacy about which I can be proud.
Even in our dark periods, my daughter was very quick to let people know two things: we allow no racism and we do not hit children. Her adamant defense of my commitment in these areas always rose above the other failures of mine plaguing us at any moment.
And she made it clear we have no tolerance for racism or violence of any kind toward children in other people. These moments were always judgmental—the sort of daily moments of activism that go mostly unnoticed because they are spontaneous.
My granddaughter is a marvelous biracial child who, like my daughter, will be raised without the threat of physical intimidation in her home and among her family. We, of course, cannot make her that same promise about her community, her state, or her country.
These glorious humans and the legacy we have joined together in creating help me navigate all my failures.
However, that familial promise is not the case for many children—and that is nearly unbearable because this legacy isn’t about only my family.
This legacy about racial harmony and kindness to children, for me, is informed by Eugene V. Debs: Statement September 18, 1918:
Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
As long as one human suffers under the plague of racism, as long as one child lives under the fear of physical violence, we are not safe or free despite the gifts we may have in our daily lives.