For the longest time, whenever my mother would dream of a baby, she’d call me to talk about my future children. She’d describe in vivid details the child’s mix of features, curly hair, fat cheeks. If she saw a blonde baby she’d ask if I was dating una rubia, or someone possessing whatever other characteristics she knew didn’t exist in me. The answer was a resounding no. No, I wasn’t dating una rubia. No, I wasn’t even thinking about kids.
My mother still dreams of grandchildren. But the features have changed. Dirty blonde hair has become the darkest shade of brown. Light eyes have changed into black, tear drop shaped wells. Rather than some imaginary rubia, my mother’s imaginary grandchildren now reflect the features of my real-life partner. But the biggest change is that I’m at the point in my life where these imaginary children feel more real to me. I watch my cousins and friends welcome their own kids into the world and I find my mind drifting to the things I’ll get to teach: the carve of a snowboard through hardpack, the snap of a jab against a heavy bag.
But then I catch a glimpse of the news and I realize that the most important thing I’ll have to teach my children will be about hate.
My partner is Korean. I am Puerto Rican. Our children will have two wells of rich culture to pull from. They will also face prejudice on two different fronts, be forced to contend with ignorance and xenophobia that weaponize their own rich histories against them. And the worst part of it is that this isn’t even the worst part of it. Americans of color in this country know all too well what that looks like. And in case we’d forgotten, the past couple of years have made it abundantly clear.
In our relationship, my partner has often used her privilege to shield me, to stand up for me in situations where I could not stand up for myself. I always thought that this privilege would be something she could pass down to our children, that it would enable them to better stand up for themselves and others. Yet recently, I’ve found myself reconsidering exactly what privilege is. If it means being safer from the police than darker skinned individuals, then, statistically, they might be. But if it means being safer from hate and the violence that often accompanies it, I’m beginning to see the fallacy of this belief.