I’ve reeeeeealy tried to keep politics out of my blog. You won’t find it here again, on my FamilyFatherFL Facebook page, or the FamilyFatherFL Twitter page. In fact, I only express my political views on my private FB account (friends & family only) and sometimes my personal Twitter account. I don’t want to isolate readers but if the following paragraphs offends you then you were probably reading the wrong blog anyway, we’re all about diversity of experience in the accepting and multicultural worlds of Disney, Star Wars & Star Trek. We are about fun with family no matter what that family looks like.
I got up early this morning because I didn’t want my kids to be alone when they heard the news. Our son gets up before the roosters and they have both become very conserned lately for their friends at school as bullying and other previously unacceptable behavior has become more open and prevalent. My daughter has even told us stories of 3rd grade classmates telling others that Trump is going to send them back to their country when he wins. I came downstairs this morning and walked over to Karl silently, gesturing for a hug as I told him the news. At first he thought I was joking or merely upset that the race was too close to be a true mandate against hatred and xenophobia. As the reality of a Trump president came over him he struggled bravely to choke back tears. Before going to bed he had asked, “if Donald Trump wins, can I swear?” We laughed and I told him, “If Trump wins, you swearing will be the least of our worries.”
He didn’t swear this morning, he didn’t get angry, he hardly even cried. He wanted to do all that, he started to, but he (like me) was numb. He pulled back his last tear, adjusted his glasses, looked up at me and said, “I’m not worried about me. I’m white, male and a Christian. I’m worried for… (He named several friends and a recently married gay couple who used to live a few doors down). As the head of household finances, future planning and home maintainance, I am still processing all the ramifications. Investments, house upgrades (we can forget about a pool within 5 year), business plans, events to cover for the blog, everything is up in the air now and all my ambitionus plans for this year and next are being cancelled.
I was surprised that I was not more angry, surprised that negative thoughts weren’t consuming me like they had in the past. I found myself clear about one thing and so far, only one thing. So that was the first thing I told Karl and when AnneMarie got up the first thing I told her…
“All I know is that anger and hate got us to this point. It isn’t going to get us out. Don’t get angry. Dont hate anyone. Don’t fight with bullies. The best thing you can do for the friends that you are worried about is tell them that you are there for them. You don’t know what it’s like for them, just let them know they aren’t alone.”
I’m a reasonably good looking, slender, 6′-3″ white male, raised Catholic in a nice home on the north shore of Chicago by parents that own what is now a fairly sizeable corporation. Most would say that I have no idea what prejudice and racism even feels like. For the most part they would be right but I count myself fortunate that I do at least have a glimpse. You see, Highland Park, where I grew up, is fairly affluent and has a large Jewish population. My neighborhood specifically was predominantly Jewish. I was eating challah bread long before communion wafers. We weren’t the only Christians but we were the only Catholics in the neighborhood. We were the ones that were often left out, looked down on and teased. On my block there was one Catholic family, one Indian family, one black family and one Korean family. Everyone else we played with was Jewish. One neighbor who’s house was two doors down was known for saying that she never would have moved there if she knew that the kind of “riff raff bringing down the property value.” She was referring to a group that included us. Not that it should matter but for edification; the black family was made up of a doctor and a lawyer, both parents from India were doctors and the Korean family, like mine, owned their own business. Although my family owned a business we were not outwardly in the same economic status as our peers. The first two decades of ownership took every dollar and hour of available family resources just to keep it going through the ’80’s. The cars, boats and vacation homes came loooong after I moved out. We went to school with some of the wealthiest and most entitled brats on the north shore but were raised under a predominant theme of not wanting to spoil us and needing to keep my father’s ‘family business’ afloat. That combined with our Catholic heritage made us perpetual second class citizens until I went off to college. It’s funny, my dad once asked his lawyer if sending me to Loyola Acedemy (a prestigious Jesuit college preparatory school) was spoiling me. The lawer replied, “no, buying him a car for his 16th birthday would be spoiling him.” The funny/not funny part is that many years later the same lawyer who my dad took most of his advice from tried to swindle my dad out of his company and bought his own daughter a new car for her “sweet 16,” a convertible Audi I think it was.
The bright side is that even though we don’t employ the tactic in our house, there must have been some wisdom in what my father used to call “tough love” because I’ve been back to HP many times in the 30 years since I left (though not recently) and I’ve tried to suppress my schadenfreude as I’ve seen a few of the most entitled ‘kids’ from high school delivering our pizza or slumped, drunk in the corner of a dive bar in Highwoo when I’ve visited. In the end my siblings and I still grew up like princes and a princess compared to most of the world (if not HP) and I’m grateful for my brief insight into being part of an ‘underclass’ in the microcosm that was Highland Park. Of course I’m more grateful that in most of American society I’m not the group that is looked down on by the ignorant and no one has ever told me to go back to Ireland or Scandinavia. I don’t really know if I would have been happier if we had been lavished with more excess that no kid needs or would appreciate but I do know that I am the man I am today because of all my experiences, good and bad.
Sufficed to say that I don’t really know what today is like for about 1/3 of our melting pot but I do at least understand.
As for my kids this morning, Karl is on safety patrol and AnneMarie is not so I bike up to school at different times with each. That phrase from earlier stuck with me and it was also the last thing I said when I kissed them each goodby at the bike rack at school…
“Anger and hatred got us here. It isn’t going to get us out. comfort your friends that are afraid and Let them know you’re there for them, they’re not alone.”
So I may be a middle-class white Christian male but to all my many Hispanic friends, minimum wage friends, European friends, female friends, African-American friends, young friends, Asian friends, gay friends, Jewish friends, Hindu and Muslim friends…
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
This Family loves you.