written by Anti-Racist Parent columnist Liz Dwyer, crossposted from Los Angelista’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness
45 minutes into our drive north to San Francisco, my eldest began asking that most dreaded of questions: Are we there yet?
The answer was no, so his little brother began saying, “That’s why I don’t do long car rides.” Yeah, I have a little diva on my hands.
I did my best to make the time fly by turning into one of those Insterstate 5 drivers who scared me to death my first time I drove to San Francisco, but we made it there in one piece. And it is, as always, utterly romantic and lovely here. It’s also really freakin‘ cold. So cold that we decided to skip walking to Chinatown and instead catch a cab there.
Up till that point, I’d been having a great time… the kids LOVE San Fransco, our hotel is perfect… but, hours later, I’m still thinking about how that’s when it all changed. You see, we had a little incident that I’ll refer to as “Catching a Cab While Black.”
I broke it down on my Twitter feed:
1) Note to self: Since you’re black, only try to catch cabs at your hotel because then they HAVE to pick you up.
2) Cabbies flash their lights @ you & your kids & then stop for white folks just past you. Son asked, “Why won’t those cabs pick us up?”
3) And so what do I tell my son? “Hey son, those cabbies don’t want to pick you up because you’re black?”
4) How about, “Son, they’re not scared of you… yet. They’re actually scared of your daddy because um, his black skin is sooo threatening.”
I’m still upset about the whole thing… especially at the insidious psychological residue that racism leaves behind. I shouldn’t have to ask myself, “Is it racism or are all these cabbies really that nasty? I know people like to think that black folks just want to cry “racism” first chance they get, but trust me, it’s not true!
What is the correct response and how would you explain such a thing to your own kids?
Liz Dwyer lives in Los Angeles with her husband of eight years, Elarryo Bolden and her two sons, ages six and three. Her great sense of adventure and desire to learn about diverse cultures took her to Guangzhou, China where she taught English to third and fourth graders, picked up some Mandarin, and managed to get into seven bike accidents. Liz taught in Compton, CA for three years and later worked for national education non-profit Teach For America. Liz has written and reflected on the world around her for the past three years at Los Angelista’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness. She’s currently freelance writing and working on her first novel.