What My White Daughter Now Knows About Racism

Anti-racism activist Tim Wise breaks down his child's newfound awareness of race in America in light of the George Zimmerman verdict.

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Demonstrator holding a sign with Trayvon Martin's face on it (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In a piece on his website, white anti-racism activist Tim Wise gives a detailed description of how he explained America's race relations to his 12-year-old daughter. Wise says that while his white child lives in a "nation set up for people just like her," she feels the heartache of a system that fails minorities daily.

To watch her crumble, eyes swollen with tears too salty, too voluminous for her daddy to wipe away? Well now that is but the latest of my heartbreaks; to have to hold her, and tell her that everything will be OK, and to hear her respond, “No it won’t be!” Because see, even though she learned last night about injustice and even more than she knew before about the racial fault lines that divide her nation, she is still a bit too young to fully comprehend the notion of the marathon, as opposed to the sprint; to understand that this is a very long race, indeed that even 26.2 miles is but a crawl in the long distance struggle for justice. And that if she is as bothered by what she sees as it appears, well now she will have to put on some incredibly strong running shoes, because this, my dear, is the work.

This is why daddy does what he does. Now you know.

 And yes, I am fully aware that there are still those who would admonish me for even suggesting this case was about race. Not just the defenders of George Zimmerman, with whom I shall deal in a moment, but even the state, whose prosecutors de-racialized this case to a point that frankly was as troubling as anything the defense tried to do. Maybe more. I mean, the defense’s job is to represent their client, and I cannot fault them for having done so successfully. But the prosecution’s job is to make it clear to the jury what the defendant did and preferably why he did it. By agreeing to a fundamentally colorblind, “this isn’t about race,” narrative, they gave away the best part of their arsenal before the war had really started.

Read more at Tim Wise.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM