An American Mom in Scotland: Teaching My Kids Why Black Lives Matter Is Not Just an American Issue by Carrie Watts
When my husband and I decided to raise our kids in his hometown in Scotland, I knew there were things my kids would go without:
- Celebrating birthdays at Chuck E. Cheese.
- Enjoying soft serve ice cream at my favorite drive-in restaurant.
- Growing up with their U.S. cousins.
That they would miss these kinds of things, things that were such an important part of my childhood, that were an important part of “me,” made me twinge with sadness and regret.
There were other things I was sure they would be better off for never knowing:
- Active shooter drills starting in nursery school.
- Health-care coverage issues that might mean not getting to go to the doctor whenever they needed it or not being able to afford medicine they might need.
- Being raised in a culture that values white lives more than black ones.
I have strived to raise them to be aware of societal inequalities – of racism, religious bigotry, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny. They will readily answer, “because of the patriarchy,” when I ask why women are denied jobs, respect, humanity and can explain why with logical arguments. I have tried to ensure they know what they need to in order to be agents of change now and as they grow older.
But, over the past few weeks, I’ve been ashamed to realize that my own desire to distance myself from the realities of slavery and the hypocrisy and horror of systemic racism in America has resulted in my giving only a cursory explanation of these things to my children. I’ve been ashamed to realize that they don’t understand how slavery in the U.S. was just the beginning, or how it’s led to so many other atrocities based on skin color.
I have had to re-evaluate what is truly me, what matters and what I have been teaching my kids. I’ve been forced to acknowledge that I’ve not been a strong enough ally. In wanting to protect my children from the worst part of the U.S., I have failed in my job to be a responsible citizen, to promote and create an anti-racist society. And this causes significantly stronger pains of regret and sadness than them missing Chuck E. Cheese parties.
What I have realized these past few weeks, really, is that there is no running away from the shameful history of slavery and racism. It is everywhere, even in the Highlands of Scotland. And I promise to do better – in the name of all the black lives that have been lost and derailed and diminished – to ensure my family and I are educated enough to support and create real change.
Hopefully, with more and more people like me finally shifting from acknowledgement to action, one day society will finally relegate racism to the history books – next to the Confederate flag and statues of Davis and Lee – where it belongs.
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