You turned 5 yesterday. I wanted to write about all the changes you’ve made, the places you might go, and how I can’t believe you are a full-blown kid.
More importantly than that, it’s time to talk to you about standing up to bullies.
You recognize that sometimes the “bad guys” say “mean things” in cartoons and that Batgirl, Bubbles or Pinkie Pie will come around the corner, do the right thing, and everything is fine. That’s an important lesson to learn right now. Because you are five.
When you read this in 10, 15, 20 years, it’s critical to recognize that the bad guys are still easy to spot but standing up might seem much harder. Here’s a clue. If a group of people are holding torches and are supported by the KKK; if that group is waving Nazi flags and beating up people; if that group is shouting in a threatening manner – perceived threat is a real threat- I hope you stand solidly on the side everything that is NOT that.
There is no “but.” There is no “they have a good point.” There is no “on both sides.”
There is something to be said about finding a middle ground in many cases. Compromise can be good and is necessary. For instance, we might be wishy-washy on what kind of house to get (still looking for our third summer). Your dad and I are compromising on an expensive purchase. It’s fair that since we’ll both be living in the house, we both get most of what we want for a reasonable price. That’s compromise.
Choices: it often takes me 20 minutes to pick the right kind of peanut butter because *choices*, or choosing how to prepare potatoes for dinner can be *hard*. However, let me be perfectly clear: there is no choice when it comes to bullies.
If the circumstances involve a group of people marching with torches intending to harm or threaten another group of people, supported by the KKK, then there is absolutely no middle ground. You should stand solidly on the side that is not supported by the KKK.
There is no middle ground for people who march in protest of hating an entire other group (or groups). If the circumstances involve a group of people marching with torches intending to harm or threaten another group of people and that group is supported by the KKK, then there is absolutely no middle ground.
I can’t say it any other way. I’m beating this into your skull as many times as I can.
Whatever happens in your life, you should stand solidly on the side that is not supported by the KKK.
It’s not that hard.
There is a fallacy of false equivalence which is what, I think, complicates things if you are reading this as an adult. Let me be clear, Little (because no matter how much taller than me you will inevitably get, you will always be my Little.) If you are against the KKK or any other hate group, then you aren’t the opposite.
You are a decent human being.
Be careful – do not fail to stand up for what’s right because you are afraid to be seen as equally bad. You’re not. People might call you terrible things for standing on the side of right. Just follow these simple rules:
Don’t burn things to the ground.
Don’t instigate violence.
Don’t tip cars.
Don’t jump into the mob unless you know exactly what’s going on.
Glass shattering? Please don’t. You could get a nasty cut and an infection. Plus, destruction of property is illegal.
Ask people who are being bullied, harassed or otherized how you can help effectively. I’ve screwed up in that way, even just a few days ago at the park. I asked a friend how can we get more people of color to attend rallies, and he very honestly, candidly, openly told me I was asking the wrong question. And he’s right. He is presenting tonight and we are going to support him, his family, our city, and our fellow citizens. But we have to do more. It’s not up to me to figure out how to do more to make others feel comfortable – it’s up to me to have a conversation with someone to see what I can do to be supportive in a meaningful way. That’s harder to do, but it’s so very important.
But yes. If someone or a group is hurting someone you love, there is no equivalent.
You help. You help. You help.
If someone or a group is standing on the wrong side of history, waving symbols that are so clearly selected to threaten another group of people, even if you have no connection to that wronged group, you stand up.
You stand alongside those who can not defend themselves or those who are hoarse for yelling for so long they need support. You stand in front of those who can not defend themselves or are too tired to fight any longer.
You help. You help. You help.
You are 5 as of yesterday. It’s the year 2017 and I can’t believe I have to send a message to future you about the KK fucking K.
I love you. Please, be good. Be good. Be good.
Also, don’t say the F word. It’s not ladylike.