I was reading something about Sandra Bland this afternoon when my 4-year-old daughter walked up, saw her picture, and asked, “Daddy, who is that lady?”
For the first time that I can recall in her 4 years of life I didn’t know how to immediately respond. What should I tell her? What can she handle at such a young age? Do I have a responsibility to tell her the truth? Do I have a responsibility to protect her from the truth, for now, until she is older and has the rational capacity to process the truth?
I took a deep breath.
“That lady is Sandra Bland.”
“Oh. What is she doing?”
“Well, Sandra has a very sad story,” I replied as my mind raced through all of the things I could say next. “I’ll tell you about her when you’re older.”
And just then I realized one of the ways in which I benefit from white privilege: I had the luxury to defer explaining to my 4-year-old daughter the tragedy of lifeless black bodies at the hands of police.
Eric Garner’s children don’t get to defer the trauma of life without their father.
Mike Brown’s family don’t get that privilege either.
Black lives matter.