Drafts of brilliance
So I’m clicking through my blog post drafts trying to see if something clever catches my eye and it seems I’m really good at coming up with nifty titles, but the posts themselves are empty and I’m left to wonder WHY DID I NOT FUCKING WRITE THE BRILLIANT SHIT THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN THERE?
I didn’t even leave myself a clue. Not even a hint at what I might have wanted to say. I can’t see my past self and ask it “what were you thinking when you titled this ‘schoolhouse rock.’ Was it about schools? Was it about rock? Was it about the fact that the Schoolhouse Rock segment on the Preamble to the Constitution made you want to become a lawyer? (That is actually true. Watch it sometime and tell me it doesn’t give you chills. If it doesn’t, then you probably are not a lawyer) I have no idea. But I’m certain it was something wonderful that is now lost for all of eternity.
In the meantime, my kids are learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. and I can see if I look back, that I’ve had drafts of brilliance about him as well. See, when I think of the things I do and the reasons why and when I think of the knee knocking fear that overcomes me sometimes while going through the day to day – the fear that gets me to write a title but not the words – I am reminded of the bravery of the people who turned our nation on it’s head. What a legacy to leave behind, to make real change in the system.
(Certainly, we are not done yet.)
My boys say “a bad man killed Martin Luther King. This man wanted the laws to stay the same and so brown people couldn’t go to our school. He wanted us all to not have friends who were different.” It’s neat to think they don’t know of a world like that. They go to a school filled with kids who are brown, black, yellow, pink, peach and stark white. They have names like Ethan and Zubair and Talya. (She is Indian and said I looked foreign. Ha, the pot calling the kettle black.) What I wonder though is if this sense of equality will make them complacent. Is the diversity which they have come to accept, will it make them believe that it is like this everywhere all the time?
Look, I am brown. I am muslim. I have a bizarre name and don’t look like other people. I’ve never walked into a room that wasn’t a family party and said hey, these people look like me. But, I never knew that I was different. I did not know it. How strange is it to go through life clearly being one of a kind but not knowing it. And, I wonder if this made me less inclined to, you know, be a bit more daring. To stand up for my fellow brown people.
I will admit, I was one of those who believed all people could just lift themselves up by their bootstraps. If you lived in the ghetto it was because you chose it. All of it started and stopped with your choices. Period. End of sentence. Full stop.
When I graduated from law school, when I was in law school, I wanted to be a prosecutor. It was my life long dream. Did you hear that? A muslim woman from Afghanistan wanted to be a prosecutor. Does that make any sense to you? Right now, looking back on it, it makes no sense to me except that I now understand that I did not realize I was different. I wanted to be like my white colleagues and because I lived a fairly sheltered, privileged, and yes, diverse life, I thought I was like them.
Everyone gets treated like the brown girl whose dad is a surgeon, right?
Naive. Silly. Complacent.
Pretty brown girl gets her way. Well, doesn’t everyone?
I didn’t know that blacks were treated differently. I lived with blacks and they were treated like me. Because, well, we came from the same socio-economic class. And that, my friends, will sometimes make all the difference.
I’ve told the story that I didn’t realize how unbearably unfair our system of justice was until 9/11. It was a shocking eye opener for me to realize holy fucking shit, we actually do not treat everyone the same.
Brown girl with her green-brown-hazel eyes held tightly shut.
So now I wonder about my kids. Will the ease of their life make them think they are the same as everyone else? That all people who are brown are treated the same way, as long as they live in a suburb of DC? And how do I get them to understand that the world is still filled with bad men who want the laws to stay the same – that racism and sexism exist and it is up to me and them and their kids and their grandkids to make sure that at some point in the future of this world we make it stop.
Today I asked my kids if they wanted to be a lawyer like mama. They laughed “no mama, you are a girl. Lawyers are girls” That, my dear reader, is the world they live in.
Can you even imagine it?