What is our new normal?
I have been hearing so many people saying that they can’t wait to go back to having everything be normal again. After almost 3 months of quarantine, I found myself having peace with our new routine and even finding joy in the midst of so much uncertainty. I joked about not having any peace and quiet with the kids at home but I actually started to really love having them home more. Jimmy has been busier than ever working from home but it’s been nice catching him when he has a quick minute to break away from his never-ending conference calls.
The last couple of months have been full-on heavy. I know you feel the same. People have experienced so much loss and devastation with the effects of Covid-19. There have been so many lives lost and the financial repercussions have been colossal. If you have experienced any kind of loss through this virus, my heart goes out to you. My parents’ business has been hit very hard and I don’t think it will survive. We have been helping them financially and despite the circumstances, I’m grateful for a roof over our heads. I know there are so many families, businesses, and lives that are changed because of this.
On top of Covid 19, we sadly witnessed the horrific murder of George Floyd in broad daylight on the news right after Ahmaud Arbery from a few weeks prior. I’m devastated for George’s family along with the countless other Black victims of police brutality.
Talking about heavy things is hard and I fear saying the wrong thing. But here’s the thing I’ve come to peace with. I WILL say the wrong thing. I WILL make mistakes. But that’s ok. I’m finding it’s better to try and learn and have a posture of growing than to say silent for fear of being misunderstood.
I’ve been more vocal about this subject on my Instagram stories where I have been actively listening, reading, sharing, and educating myself as well as watching my Black brothers and sisters share their hearts. I’ve talked about my own experiences as a minority in this special niche. Since it’s my largest platform, I feel a great responsibility with it. I’ve been processing my thoughts all last week and decided because I’m a doer, I would share some thoughts on everything with the hopes that some of the resources I share will be helpful to you.
Let me preface this by saying Jimmy and I still have so much work to do when it comes to addressing racism. We are still working internally to locate our own individual blind spots. As Korean-Americans, we are also culpable of unconscious bias and prejudice. As parents, we continue to make mistakes and ask that God fill in the gaps where we fall short. But not talking about racism with our kids isn’t an option. Silence will not protect them. If you are doing this already, I commend you! Keep at it. You are doing the good work in your home where it should start.
With fostering, we have had to address difficult conversations with our kids. Foster children come from hard places and it’s difficult to understand behavioral issues if you don’t know or understand the history of that child. To prevent faulty conclusions, we have had age-appropriate conversations to help foster healthy conversations centered around injustice and what we can do about it as a family. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it messy? Is it complicated? Definitely. But it’s worth it.
Being a POC, (person of color) I have experienced a countless number of times where I have been the victim of racism. It sucks and there are certain triggers that come from those unfortunate and sometimes traumatic experiences. BUT I have never feared for my life because of the color of my skin. That is a form of privilege in itself. It hurts my heart when a Black friend shares that she has had “the talk” with her child about the list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to doing normal things that we never have to think twice about it. I could not imagine having to worry about JJ getting shot one day because of the color of his skin.
I hear people saying all the time, “but I teach my kids to love all people.” Or, “I don’t see color.” Teaching our kids to not be racist is not enough. Seeing color is to acknowledge a person’s identity, history, and struggles. Even in middle school, Jules has shared with me experiences of racism from her peers. I bet those same parents of those kids would never consider themselves racists. Jules came home one day from school and shared how one of her best friends came to school with her hair in a different way. You see, her friend is Black. Kids made cruel comments about her hair and Jules was understandably upset.
It became a natural segway into talking about how hair is a very special and important topic for Black people. I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back. My best friend in high school opened my eyes for the first time regarding Black hair. She had a specific and meticulous routine when it came to her hair. I learned how it was very much a part of her identity, heritage, culture, and history. It wasn’t until later when I educated myself that those prior experiences made more sense. When we educate ourselves on topics that are outside our culture and race, we are so much more equipped to talk about them with our children.
If you’re feeling uneasy and uncomfortable these days, I see that as a good thing. As a Christian, I know that discomfort is the holy spirit saying that something is not right. There is work to be done and we are to be a part of the solution. It’s a reminder that our citizenship is in heaven and while we’re here on this earth, we will continue to feel we aren’t meant for this world. But it’s also the conviction to know what is wrong and to fight injustice when we see it.
We are constantly teaching our kids to use their voices. Words have so much power. They sometimes struggle with finding the confidence to speak up even if it’s because they don’t understand something in school. I constantly teach them that if you don’t speak up, no one can help you. People can’t read your mind. The same goes for if they see someone else being treated unfairly or unjustly. I tell them that they have the voice to speak up for those that are marginalized, bullied, or badly treated. They keep me accountable because I need to practice what I preach.
One way to start these discussions at home is simply by researching books and educating yourself. Last year, Jules and I read, “The Hate You Give.” It has very mature content with profanity and drug use so I would read it prior to letting your teen read it. I haven’t let her watch the movie yet but I have and it was very thought-provoking. Jules also read, “Dear Martin” and “On The Come Up” which she recommends.
For younger kids, Happiest Baby and The Conscious Kid provide resources and books on diversity and talking to your kids about racism. I need to check these books out for my younger kids since I haven’t been as proactive about that.
Jimmy loves watching movies so some of our favorites are “Just Mercy,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Hidden Figures,” and “When They See Us.” We still have a whole list we want to watch.
If you’re financially able, I would do the research and donate where you can to organizations that continue to do the hard work and fight injustice. My brother shared a few organizations with me like ACLU and Lawyer Comm. I think it was my pastor who once said something along the lines of, our checkbooks will show where our hearts are. That statement was so true and convicting! I chose ACLU and a Go Fund Me for a Minneapolis distillery business that was destroyed during the riot.
Lastly, I wanted to encourage you to reach out and ask your Black friends how they’re doing. Will it be awkward? Maybe. But it’s worth the awkwardness. Don’t make it about you. If you don’t have any Black friends to call or text then think about how you can open your circle to inviting Black people into your community.
So what is our new normal going to look like? Honestly, I have no idea. But I do know that I don’t want to go back to how things used to be. I can’t. Knowing what I know now and hearing what I’ve heard, I’m praying for a new normal. May it be one where we don’t turn a blind eye to injustice, pray for those who are hurting and use our gifts, talents, and resources to bring forth reconciliation and healing. A change is coming. I believe it.
As always, thanks for reading friends. I’ll be back with new content this week but please know that I am committed to doing the hard work behind the scenes on this important issue and will continue to use my voice to fight injustice. I love you all.
Let all that you do be done in Love. 1 Corinthians 16:14