Black Lives Matter

Published on September 30th, 2020 | by Dartinia Hull

2

Where Do My Kids Stand With You?

If my daughter shows up in the crosshairs of your #standback and #standby, what are you going to do? I need to know.

            I wasn’t going to watch the presidential debate last night, but the newsperson in me won out. 

            In the deluge of word vomit during questions about white supremacy, I heard two things that chilled me:

            Absolutely NO condemnation for white supremacy groups.

            Followed in short order by the words “stand back, and stand by.” 

            Which, by the way, are trending hashtags right now at the wee hour of 2 a.m. And that leads me to this: 

            If you’re OK with any leader telling any white supremacist group to “stand by,” please let me know so I know where not to send my kids if they ever need to find protection. If you received those words as a call to action, tell me. I am as serious as a heart attack right now. I need to know. Yes, YOU. Right there. You who are reading this and shaking your head. You with the smirk. You who would condescend to me and say “you just don’t understand,” the same way the Klan grand dragon or wizard or whatever did when I interviewed him years ago. Yes, I do NOT understand.

            If you’re good with this, that’s saying you are fine—just fine—with my daughter being shot down in the streets. It’s as simple as that.

            If you’re good with it, that’s saying you’re OK with cross burnings in my yard, or any yard. With lynchings. With attacks on anybody who is not of your skin tone, or your perceived skin tone. With attacks on people who would stand in solidarity with me. With attacks on their children. With dragging a man through the streets until he has no skin. With setting a child on fire, and burning him beyond recognition. With the massacre of an entire town. With the flaying of skin, and the stench of rotting flesh.

            Don’t patronize me and tell me I misunderstood. Don’t tell me I’m overreacting. Because, if I did misunderstand, and I AM overreacting, that means there are people out there who also misunderstood and took this as a directive—enter the hashtag—which means my children are considered fair targets, which has actually always been the case, but which now means I really need to know where you stand. On the record. 

            I need to know where you stand on this. I keep repeating this because I am desperate. If my daughter shows up in the crosshairs of your #standback and #standby, what are you going to do?

Photo by Nechirwan Kavian on Unsplash

            If you are willing to take up arms, or ignore the implication of the suggestion, against my children, my nieces, my nephews, my parents, my cousins, then I don’t have anything else to say except “thank you for letting me know.” We are done. It doesn’t matter if we played together as children, went school together, had ballet lessons together, played Dungeons and Dragons together, went to church together, skipped church together, double-dated to the prom together, got put on restriction together, tailgated in college together, stood up for each other at our weddings, are each other’s children’s godparents—I don’t care if you shared your stash of coronavirus masks with me last week—right now, NONE OF THAT MATTERS, because if you are willing to condone or look the other way when it comes to somebody who will attack me simply because I and my family are not white, then you and me, sweetie, we are done. 

            Don’t tell me you wouldn’t let anybody attack me because I’m black. That implies you’re going to find another reason to let them do it, that you are unwilling to see and comprehend my fear.

            Let me tell you something. My kids will override all of the above list every day. I’m not mad. I respect your honesty. I won’t respect you any longer, but what do you care? You probably already have an idea of your heart. I’m just waiting for you to admit it before our God and all these good people out here who are standing by with you, and to  the ones who thought that they meant something to you.  

            YOUR kids are safe with me. They always have been because I take protecting children and lives seriously. Don’t talk about protecting the unborn when you are perfectly willing to do violence against the living. THE TWO DON’T COMPUTE. I don’t care how old these children are. My little baby cousins are grown. YOUR little baby cousins are grown. They are safe with me.

            You cannot separate my kids from “other” kids, because the second you do that, you admit prejudice. You cannot claim to control that narrative or anybody’s actions. And why should you have to, or even try to? The very narrative is disgusting, and it cannot be separated from the whole picture of this inbred, genetic-level hatred. Why are you even entertaining it, my dear, so-called friend? What makes my kids different? If that gives you pause, you need to examine yourself.

            Yes, I’m hurt and angry about a lot of things and with a lot of people, but not with the kids, especially not with the babies and the young ones. And no, my children are not babies, but if they needed to go somewhere in order to be safe, I’d want them to have some kind of touchstone. You’d want the same for yours. It’s how we do in the South: you take a trip, you call all your aunties and uncles along the way and they will feed you or at least look in your face to assure your health and safety. I wouldn’t want to think that their Uncle So-and-So and Aunt Whatshername would shrug and look the other way if a white supremacist took aim. I wouldn’t want to think, worse, that Uncle So-and-So and Aunt Whatshername take all of this to heart and would set a trap for my kids. 

            Or smile when they see them in the crosshairs.

            If my daughter shows up in the crosshairs of your #standback and #standby, what are you going to do?

            Maybe we all need a Family and Friends Green Book, so we know to whom we cannot go and to whom we can no longer speak. And a vice-versa one, so the ones of you standing by know which others are standing by, and which aren’t. I am not joking. My family already has started one. Again, I am not joking. After the 2016 election, my very solemn question during a family meeting was “if the kids need to run, who can we trust?”

            Some people have made the answer to that question abundantly clear, and I thank them for it, even when it hurt so much to realize, especially when they still wanted to debate my “close-mindedness.” That there were “fine people” on each side.

            If you wonder whether you’re on that list, then you need to examine your heart.

            Funny thing is, my kids knew who you were. They had told me years before, and I didn’t want to believe. I thought friendship would win. I was so stupid. And there were some who began to make remarks that chipped away at my confidence in their humanity, and my husband looked at me and said “there you have it.”

            If you are with a group of people that’s actively —or even considering —attacking others, and you look and see my daughter, are you going to fire on her? If you see my daughter walking up the street, are you going to fire on her? If you see my daughter, and your friend pulls out a weapon to take aim, what are you going to do? Where are you going to stand?

            If my daughter shows up in those crosshairs, what are you going to do?  What would you want me to do if it were your child? Or your niece or nephew? Or your godchild?

            Think hard about these things. Pray about them. Please

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

            I need to know where my family stands with you. YOU. YOU right there, you who might be reading this and thinking “she’s overreacting.” You can call me and try to convince me of this, but that would be very telling. And you would need to re-examine your heart. You would need to make a decision. It’s not my kids or your kids. That’s not it at all. Think about it. 

            So if you’re cool with it, I’m not mad. We good. We ain’t talking no more, but we good. I’m out. 

            If you are standing by, then why? And if you are, and my daughter shows up in your crosshairs, what will you do?

            If you are willing to stand back and stand by, what ever reason, then I need to know.

Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

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About the Author

Dartinia Hull

Dartinia Hull lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. One daughter has moved away. Dartinia isn’t sure how she feels about that. She is a graduate of the Queen’s University of Charlotte Master of Fine Arts program, and has been published in The Bitter Southerner, QCityMetro.com, and The Charlotte Observer. Her essay, “The Room With the Dying Fan,” was chosen as one of the top 12 reader favorites in the 2019 Bitter Southerner’s Folklore Project.



2 Responses to Where Do My Kids Stand With You?

  1. Avatar Harriet Cooper says:

    I think the phrase “condone or look the other way” says it all. Refusing to condemn white supremacists and also the president who tells them to stand by does tell us where YOU stand.

    I loved the way Hull kept using YOU to make it clear that she was talking to all of us, particularly the YOUs who pretend they’re not part of the problem. That she didn’t threaten them. That she made it clear what her position was. That she – rightfully – fears for her kids. She should. We all should. For ALL kids.

    Thank you for this article. I can only hope that the people who need to read it actually do read it. AND UNDERSTAND.

  2. Avatar Dartinia says:

    Thank you, Harriet.

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