Imagine Having to Explain to Your Child…

Rose, Father Peter, IngridRenika Williams, center, in the feature film Healing River.

This week in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a black man named George Floyd choked to death while a white police officer knelt on his neck, ignoring his pleas.

I am not qualified to speak about this. And by “this” I mean the ongoing pandemic of racism, an issue that white people in the U.S.–people like me–are perpetually blind to. Many of my friends, black and white, are speaking out about the incident. I haven’t spoken until now because, as I said, I am not qualified.

But one woman, a brilliant young actress named Renika Williams, whom I had the great pleasure of directing in her first feature film Healing River, has spoken both painfully and powerfully on the issue. I not only admire Renika’s talent, but love her as a person. She’s a joyful, faith-filled beam of light that floods every room she enters. And so I was particularly shaken by her convicting words to the clueless privileged like me who simply cannot see how endemic the issue is.

Imagine having to explain to your child why the police murder people that look like them. What a privilege it is not to have that conversation with your child. Imagine telling them that they can get murdered for going on a jog. What a privilege it is not to have that conversation with your child. Imagine being in third grade and learning about the history of slavery in America and realizing that you would be the only one in your class who would’ve been enslaved 400 years ago. What a privilege it is not to have to fully realize what slavery is at just eight years old. What a privilege it is not to have to think about all the ways slavery still impacts your daily life at just eight years old. What a privilege it is to look away from every post, hashtag, video, article. What a privilege it is to see these things every week and not feel completely enraged and physically and emotionally in pain as if it was someone you knew. What a privilege it is to never have to think that it could’ve been you.

May we read these words and think. Read these words and pray. Read these words and do all we can to assure no parent will ever have to explain this to their child again.

Renika’s most recent appearance was in the play All the Natalie Portmans at the MCC theatre in New York.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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19 Responses to Imagine Having to Explain to Your Child…

  1. joyroses13 says:

    What powerful words for sure! So very sad and it just breaks my heart, just like i know it breaks God’s! Thanks for sharing Mitch!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. gifted50 says:

    I wish to thank you for pointing some light at the issue. I am mother of 2 boys, 23 and 7 yrs. The pain is “much” I am afraid when the older one leaves and goes out with his friends. We exist as parents, family and people in a constant case of fear. There needs to be an awakening. This has to stop. Not one of us got to decide how we looked/ what race we are on this planet. It is time we stopped being judged for being black.
    All the self-righteous and God loving people who speak out about everything else, abortion, animals, climate…are remarkably silent while this goes on and on and on…

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Reblogged this on A Blog About Healing From PTSD and commented:
    According to both Ancestry and 23andMe, my DNA carries only a tiny percentage of African Nigerian. But I feel it. Oh yes, I feel it. During the Jim Crowe segregationist years, my paternal grandfather ran away from his black mother when he was just 12 years old, because he wanted to live in the white world and he was light enough to pass.

    He never went back to his black family. But I feel it in my blood and in my bones. Oh yes, I do. When I sing and dance, I have been asked, by several black people, where I got that soul. I didn’t know the answer, until I was 23 and my dad told me the family secret. But even then, the first words out of my mouth were “I knew it!”

    When I was a six-year-old blonde-headed, freckled white girl, growing up in a community where the white folks bragged about running black people out of town, my mom took me to the doctor one day to see about my tonsils, and everyone in the waiting room — including my mother — sat as far away as possible from the young black couple with their two small children and the terrified eyes. I felt it very much, then! Even though I did not yet know about my great-grandmother being a black woman, I Felt It! And I couldn’t understand WHY all the white people were shunning the black family, because — my black and white cat had recently had a litter of kittens. And each of her kittens was a totally different color. BUT — THEY WERE ALL KITTENS!!! They all had tiny whiskers, and soft fur, and little tails, and tiny claws. They all cried Meow, they all purred. It made no difference, what their colors were.

    I am proud to have an ancestor that was a slave. But I am deeply ashamed of all my prejudiced, white ancestors. We were all created by God and made in His image. We are all the same inside, just like the black and white, and the orange stripped, and the gray tabby kittens that were born in a single litter. They were all kittens. And we are all humans.

    This post by the movie director Mitch Teemley is perfect for today.. Please visit his blog, too. Thank you and God Bless. ❤❤❤

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Mark Johnson says:

    Profound and painful words. We have so far to go to create a society that is respectful and safe for all our people no matter their skin color, heritage, sexual orientation or beliefs.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Len Freeman says:

    Years ago I marched in Selma because I felt that Jesus would want me to. It’s hard to see so clearly that we’re still not so far from those snarling dogs at the Pettus Bridge.
    My hope and my faith is that Jesus is still moving us forward.
    Len Freeman, Minneapolis

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One of my dear friends is married to a Lakota Sioux. Years ago in Washington DC he was targeted by police for being different. He later went to seminary and is an Episcopal priest and is very active in “First Nations” issues. We all have much to regret over how things happened in our nation’s past. We have to live so that no one has to explain to their children that they are going to be treated “differently.”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for sharing Renika’s message. Framing it from a parent’s perspective should make an impression on those who need to hear it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Miishuangmu says:

    The skin that I wear determines my social status? my health care benefits? my future?my family’s safety?…if this is the truth to be, it is very sad. To me the basic kindness a human could give is compassion. It’s not a nickle, it’s not a penny neither it is in the word of ” thank you” or ” love”.
    Thank you for sharing, Sir.
    It’s a great article that we should all awaken to. 🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tiffany says:

    She is absolutely right. This racism hits home to some of my family members. And it is the same thoughts my mom has to deal with concerning her children. Stress, fear, worries, doubts, and anger floods our minds as this continues to hit close to home. No one should ever live in fear nor grow up living in the land of the free, when their privileges are stripped away because the color of their skin. Police are suppose to serve and protect, not play executioner. Not all police are like that, but they carry a bad taste in the black community.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tiffany says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Please read!
    This is why we need to stand together against hatred. No one should face death base on the color of their skin. NO ONE!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I did explain it to my kids who are biracial (Caucasian and African American). They did learn about slavery at school. Racism should be punishable by law.

    Liked by 1 person

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