by Anti-Racist Parent columnist Tiffany Pridgen
My name is Tiffany Pridgen and I’m pleased to be joining Anti-Racist Parent as a contributor. I’m a stay-at-home momma to a six-month-old little boy, affectionately nick-named “Rosco,” and a lapsed writer. I’m married to Scott: an art director and Star Wars-ophile.
I’m Southern by heritage, regardless of the fact I have a New York City birth certificate. I’m proud that my speech drawls when I’m relaxed and that I often invent colorful metaphors to fully describe something (that’s the Southern way, you know). I grew up surrounded by cotton and corn fields, picked bushels of beans for spending money in the summer, and generally didn’t mind having dirt under my nails. I was extremely fortunate to be in a county where the demographics were pretty evenly split. I never felt like I was insignificant for being in a minority group, and I understand now how unique that experience was. As there were only four public schools period in the entire county, we all got the same opportunities. It was there I learned to compete for the top spot and strive for excellence – no one was going to let me use my background as an excuse for failure, including myself.
That being said, this is still the same South Dr. King marched all over. I’m not so naive to believe that there aren’t lingering tensions from slavery and Jim Crow that put people on the defensive. I remember that during the year I graduated from high school an unusually high number of black students had won competitive merit-based scholarships and awards. One white student, feeling shafted, voiced after the awards ceremony (loudly) that it wasn’t fair that we had “gotten everything” and that we had received them because of affirmative action. I was incredibly offended by her statement because I had been in classes with her since fourth grade. She knew full well that if I was walking away with an award it was because I had blew everyone out of the water, and not because someone at my future alma mater felt pity for me (and my horrible >4.0 GPA). In a moment I stopped feeling angry that she was racist, but began to feel pity for her being so damn stupid.
I see how people tippy-toe around the truth and instead shift blame to suit their needs. I realize that there are still some people that teach their children hateful things about others so that they will appear to be righteous heroes when in truth they’re miserable failures. I know the children in turn take that in and feel entitled to be the way they are. And I pity them.
While I believe the idea of “race” and the Easter Bunny belong on the same plane of reality, I know my kids will be introduced to both concepts in the outside world whether I want them to be or not. It is now, while Rosco’s slate is still clean, that I can think through how we’re going to introduce concepts like ethnicity and give him the guidance he needs to understand that biology should never be a reason to hate.
Tiffany Pridgen is the mistress of snarkymomma.com: a blog where she recounts daily the joys and frustrations of being a modern momma. She lives in Durham, NC with her son and husband.