Heather Heyer was the child of a mother out there, who undoubtedly received the worst news of her life yesterday. There may be a small bit of solace knowing that she died with her middle fingers up at Nazis, but, honestly, for a parent who is grieving, I can only imagine that it is little solace indeed. She gave her life because of the White supremacist regime, and her mother grieves…just as millions have throughout American history.
My husband and I have brought A to a few direct actions and protests throughout his twelve months of life so far. Not enough–never enough–but some**. When my husband heard someone was killed in the counter-protests in Charlottesville yesterday, the first thing he said is ‘I get so scared when A is at rallies like that.’ I’m scared, too. Of neo-Nazis driving cars into crowds and hurting my baby. Do I have a right to bring my child to events like that, when there is a risk of a White man (the most common type of terrorist in the United States) doing something so grossly violent? After all, my goal in life is for A to be safe and healthy, above all else. At the same time, don’t I, as a White parent, have an obligation to bring him?
Yes, the events of yesterday made me scared to attend protests with A. The way that Black and Brown mothers are scared every day when they let their babies, no matter what age, out of their house. This shouldn’t be about my feelings. I can be scared, have those feelings, acknowledge them and that they make me human. And then move on and move forward. Recognize the terrorism that occurred in Charlottesville yesterday. Mourn the life that was lost in Charlottesville. And still continue to show up, with A when I feel it is safe, to events, rallies, and direct actions.
And when I don’t feel like it is safe for A, continue to show up in those small, mundane moments of parenting. Continue to show up at bedtime while reading. Continue to show up during diaper changes and during playtime. Parenting communicates social messages of power, whether you are at a direct action or not. Use the opportunities that you have.
Before the women’s march, this article helped me decide to bring A.
**I don’t want this to sound self-congratulatory or trying to prove that ‘I’m different than all the other White people because I’ve been to a few rallies’ I don’t deserve that label White activist, and I’m sure I am complicit in supporting White supremacy sometimes, even as I actively try to disrupt it in my day to day life.