My Privilege

A black-haired angel placed you in my arms

She gave you her deep brown eyes and warm brown skin.

Your tiny hand grasped my pale white finger

And your life became my world,

 

I was blind to the color of the world

Black and white, shadow and light.

Then, coffee meets cream

And suddenly I see.

 

Suddenly aware that I cannot find

Picture books, movies, toys

That look like you.

Where are your heroes and role models?

 

Suddenly aware that I am told

Over and over

How much energy you always seem to have.

Why is your energy so much more offensive than others?

 

Finally aware that my friends

Believe in white perfection.

Not racist

But not aware

Of the white God they worship

Who mocks my child’s skin.

 

50 years ago, our relationship would endanger your life

100 years ago, our relationship would be illegal

200 years ago, our relationship would be that

Of slave and master.

 

How do I teach you?

About the brave and beautiful forebearers

Whose bondage built the wealth

And won the freedoms of this country.

 

How do I teach you?

About the overt racism

And subtle discrimination

That you will face

From now and through the time

Your hand outgrows mine.

 

How do I teach you?

To respect and love the law

And those who enforce it,

But to properly fear it

So that you will come home every night.

 

Is it possible for me to take your small, but growing hand

And love you enough to make it okay?

After all, love is the key

To the problems of the world

 

Let love push out the bitterness I feel

About a past that abused and used you.

Let love push out the guilt I feel

To know I benefit from inequality.

Let love push out the hate I feel

Toward any who would hurt or hate you.

 

Let love inspire me to speak

To act and to push for change

To live in honor of a dream

That the color of your skin will be a celebration.

 

That my baby won’t have to fight

To share his passionate heart

And wondrous mind.

 

That love really can be enough

For that small brown hand

To have a world of dreams in its reach.

 

Marianne Pence (2018)