By Jaycee Kemp
My suburban community has a Facebook page dedicated to moms who are in the know. Seriously, they know what’s up. They can make anything happen. Post a question about a plumbing recommendation and someone offers up their plumber hubby at a discount. A mom is sick and just like that, someone puts together a Google doc and that family has every meal covered for a month. Friends and I joke about how this Facebook group could probably bring down ISIS if they aren’t doing so already.
I live in an affluent community, and when we are just small, icon pictures online, we can do anything.
In order for a group like this to stay cohesive, there are rules, such as no political postings. Anything perceived as political will be taken down almost immediately so everyone can get to more important issues, such as where to get your Elf on the Shelf’s socks darned or how to get your cat out from behind a locked door.
I actually have no problem with this policy, especially when it is explicitly expressed. It’s like avoiding talking politics with your one uncle once he has too many drinks…you have no idea what will be said, and whatever it is, it probably will get really out of hand.
Recently, I have been given pause about this community of mine because someone broke that rule.
I am a minority living quietly behind a non-minority-sounding name. It is not a secret, but it also is not obvious, so unless it comes up, I don’t think much of it to go out of my way to let people know.
Shortly after the election, a friend of mine defiantly posted a political meme highlighting her concern about our president’s choices for his cabinet and his silence over the growing number of hate crimes against minorities since the election. Understandably so in mixed company, someone expressed an opposing view. My friend went on to voice her concerns as a member of an interfaith family who identifies as Jewish and explained her 12-year-old son’s difficulty sleeping due to his growing anxiety about his future. A few people did express they were glad to see her concerns openly.
But after watching a few more of my neighbors’ less than supportive comments, I attempted against my better judgment to see if I could mobilize my community and remind them why we are here despite the possibility of dissenting opinion before the administrators of our group could take the post down. Here is how it went down:
Me: “It seems we have a member of our community here who is worried and concerned about her child’s fears. This is a complicated time; is there anyone here who disagrees with her meme who can simply allay her concerns for her child?”
Comments: “Yeah….but the left….and here is an article to prove it….”
“She was the one who wanted the discussion about fascists….”
“Please stop sharing this leftist propaganda! Police are being executed by the left…..”
So I responded to one of them, “Do you have children?” to which the response was, “Yes.” I replied, “Great, then you understand where this mother is coming from. How can we help her help her son?”
While this was the only person who agreed this is where common ground could be found, she continued talking about her fear of terrorism and police murders rather than helping this mother in the way I asked our community to rally.
After about 30 minutes, with me asking twice and three different people sending out a tagged SOS to the administrators of the group to take down the conversation, it was gone.
My neighbors wanted to make sure we all knew how wrong my friend was without ever acknowledging her instinct to protect her minority child from the fear that was keeping him up at night. NOT ONE PERSON stepped in to assure her. Even after my explicit plea, “What can she tell her child to let him know he will be safe or what can she tell him so he knows he can trust the adults around him?” NOT ONE PERSON.
Of course, I realize that this conversation was started in an inflammatory manner and that this topic was up only for a very short time on a Tuesday evening on Facebook. However, I do know now that when a random sampling of my most vocal neighbors is asked, they prefer to be right in their own politics rather than to hear their call of duty as a community to quell the fears of a minority child and assure him that he will be safe in their presence should their politics be wrong. This is different than all of our nebulous but present fears of a terrorist attack. This is about being a good neighbor and protecting our own.
Ladies. Mothers. Our village is made up of many different people, and this includes children. We officially will be living with individuals in our government who have clearly stated their intentions regarding lots and lots of your neighbors.
Unfortunately, there are many citizens who take those intentions one step further by threatening, menacing and performing acts of violence toward those neighbors. Neighbors who were ok enough before to take meals to when in need. And while you can hold your own beliefs regarding whether or not these threats are real or true and ask why we minorities were not scared before, I can assure you we were. We worked on that so our children were not.
So please, if you have a torch raised, use the light from the flame to see the people right in front of you. We are all mothers first, and for our children, now more than ever, it really does take a village.
About the Author
Jaycee Kemp is a social worker raising two perfect kids in an imperfect world. When she is not busy being educated about life by them, she likes to take what she has learned and educate others on her experiences in a TEDx talk, book-writing and blogging. Jaycee been featured on The Mighty, Break The Parenting Mold, Birdhouse for Autism and her own corner of the internet at runningthroughwater.com. You can also find her way more than you should on social media on Facebook and on Twitter.