Thursday, March 3, 2011

Laramie Project and Skin Color

Rob's youth group is hosting a fund raiser screening of the Laramie Project this Sunday evening.  I watched the movie here with Rob a few nights ago because although I knew the topic, I did not know how it was going to be presented.  Rob has a dx of PTSD and  while I know most of his triggers after 9  years, I would be silly to think I knew them all.  He wants to be at the benefit with his friends and I want him to be able to, but I thought we should watch it together in a safe place where if he felt uncomfortable we could turn it off, take a breath or opt out.

He was fine.  I was crying my eyes out silently by the end of the movie.  It is not graphic. There are not loud threats or screams, things that would trigger my son.  But the quiet hatred that the movie portrayed (and it also certainly portrayed hope and love as well) chilled me to my core.   It wasn't that it was specifically  a murder of a gay man. I think it was the hate crimes in general thing.  I think a lot about how there are people in the world who will not see the beautiful spirits of my children the way I do. They will see, as they grow, a woman who a segment of society wants to sexualize in a negative and demeaning way.  They will see my boys as threats.  There are people who could easily see my eldest as a threat because of a combination of his ethnicity and his disability which make his actions and the reasons behind them hard for outsiders to read.  When my inner Pollyanna has to face up to such potential realities there are always tears. (smile)

At any rate, it made for a good conversation between Rob and I.  I had to ask him to wait till the following night so that I could be more composed when we spoke.  He was fine with that, and when as promised I explained where I was when I was watching the movie, he said that "wasn't that illegal."  At 14 he is still very much at the age where right and wrong are clearly delineated, and for all that he might sneak candy or his ipod into his room at night, at heart he is law abiding.  So I had to delve deeper and way out of my personal comfort zone and said that yes of course they were illegal.  But that some people would break laws, even laws that were human rights.  And that while I believed the world was pretty much filled with good people, we also had to be smart and careful.  I don't think I did the best job I could, but it was a start.  And he could see how I feel and I think that helped.

In an unrelated conversation, it is increasingly clear to me how grateful I am that I have 5 children of color.  Because there is an intense need to feel that their color is  not the singular difference in the family.   I wasn't really prepared for this because Chet although a beautiful tan, is color deficient and can't really see lots of colors. That added to his autism have not made skin tone something of note to him during his life. 

But when Rob was little and KC was first born, I remember how angry Rob was over the fact that KC was so much lighter than he.  I thought KC would become darker as he got older--something all my black friends assured me would happen.  Except that it didn't, and I can remember Rob asking me why.  Then Lissa came along and she and Rob have almost the same skin tone. Fiona's skin is very similar to Rob's also, but a shade or two more honey toned.

Recently, KC has been pointing out that his skin and Chet's are "alike" and Rob and Lissa and Fiona's are "alike," and K and I are similar except that K is rosy and I am pale. LOL I am glad that they have people in the family that they can feel that sense of physical matching with.   I remember looking at my features and figuring out who in my family I looked like. Did I lean more toward my maternal relatives, or did I seem to lean towards my fathers?  My kids can't do that for the most part, so I am glad they can draw a sense of commonality and comfort in seeing their skin tone or eye shape mirrored in a sibling.

No comments: