I haven’t written anything in over a year. 2017 has been a year that I would not like to relive. My family suffered a great deal; however, we are ending the year in a much better place than the one we were slogging through during the first oh let’s say 8 months of the year. Avery and Lily are happy kindergarteners; me and mine are healthy; we had an amazing Baker family trip to Disney World; we will greet the new year with purpose and tenacity.
Yesterday, I took Avery and Lily to their first live action movie. They’ve always rejected any film that is not animated. I’ve wanted to see The Greatest Showman since I saw the preview a few months ago. After convincing the girls that it’s a circus movie, they willing came along.
Avery is a movie-cryer. I’ve even banned certain movies because of the flood of tears they cause in her. Tinkerbell and the Never Beast will never be played in my home again, for instance. Moana reduced her to tears to the point that I had to carry her out. She tells me that she just feels it so much.
The Greatest Showman is phenomenal. We all agree it’s our new favorite movie. The soundtrack has been playing on repeat in the car and at home since we left the cinema yesterday afternoon. Even so, Avery broke down during multiple scenes. There’s an absolutely swoon-worthy song and dance number between Zac Efron’s and Zendaya’s characters complete with aerial acrobatics that had both girls mesmerized, until the end of it when Avery was shattered. Why would Zendaya’s character (Anne Wheeler) walk away from the charms of Zac Efron’s character (Phillip Carlyle)? She looked at me with tears streaming down her face, desperate to understand what obstacle lay in the path of these two obviously in love characters.
Like a lead weight, my heart dropped. In that moment, I realized she had no idea. She had no clue that the world has not, does not, treat all races equally. The walls of innocence that I’ve carefully constructed around her to keep the evils of the world out are beginning to crumble. I don’t have to tell her. I don’t have to let them know that the world is a cruel place, far crueler to others than to them. I can keep them blissfully unaware a while longer. We can peacefully continue, protected by our privilege.
I know my child. She forgets nothing. I knew that the movie would end, and we’d walk to our car. Then she would begin asking me the hundreds of questions she’s stored in her mind throughout the movie. I knew that there was no way I could escape this ugly reality. A sliver of hope crept into my heart. This child reminded me that we aren’t born with this hate. The faces of my friends filled my head, faces of so many different colors, faces that have experienced a world that I will never know based on something none of us have earned. In that instant, I became certain that I must tell my daughters. How will they every be the women of courage and integrity that I require them to be if they are unaware of the grossest of injustices? How will they change the world if they don’t know what needs changing?
Shock. Disgust. Anger. The reactions of my children to this horrible truth were followed by silence, a truly rare thing for us. I called it by it’s name. I painted the picture for them. I named our cherished friends that suffer under this systemic hate and from whom this evil would keep us, if we let it. After some time to process, Lily told me, “You’re going to have to remind me about this.” My sweet, candid Lily. I agreed that I will not let her forget.