Why I changed my mind about Colin Kaepernick, and you should, too.

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I, as an individual, am as pretty WASP-y as you can get. I am white, middle class, Protestant, grew up mostly in the South, and come from a military family – my grandfather was in the Army, my brother was in the Marines, and I have 3 uncles who served in the Navy.  So, when I first heard about and subsequently saw Colin Kaepernick’s response to the National Anthem, it stung. 

Okay, I’m hedging. It more than stung. I thought it was disrespectful and I flat out disagreed with it. 

Yeah, yeah, my family members served to preserve his right of free speech, I get it. Now, I am not in any way going to condone his other choices, but I am going to specifically address his choice to kneel during the National Anthem. I thought what he was doing was wrong.

I now realize I am the one that was wrong, and here is why.

I have written previously regarding my feelings about the current state of our country, working alongside members of law enforcement every day, being married to a black man, and being the mother of two biracial boys. The current level of violence in this country, American citizen on American citizen, is nauseating. And we are scared – black, white, police, non-police. 

WE ARE SCARED. 

For each other, our neighbors, our friends, our husbands, our wives, our sons, our daughters. And we are letting that FEAR WIN. I have realized… even in 2016, we are still very much of country of “us” vs “them”.

I have listened to so many people talk about how Colin Kaepernick is being disrespectful by kneeling. Military, non-military, men, women…. but all mostly white. 

And that got me thinking. I started thinking about race relations in this country, and I started thinking about my own family, and my fears for my children. If I had something to say, once my children started driving and I began to pray for them to come home safely every night… not just in fear of a car accident, but in fear of them getting shot… How could I draw attention to it? How could I get my voice heard? How could I start a national conversation to actually help the situation, and make some progress?

So I had to ask myself, how do “we” (White America) want “them” (Black America) to protest? To show their fear? To demonstrate their pain? 

We complained in the 1960s with sit-ins and boycotts (“they are interrupting businesses”), we judge harshly with riots (“they are being violent”), and the church prayer meetings largely get ignored. So how, in this day and age, are we going to allow a population of people in the United States, the “land of the free” be heard? How are “we” going to allow “them” to start a conversation with “us”?

My guess is, Colin Kaepernick is scared for this country. I know I am. 

As a trauma surgeon, I am the one behind the scenes, with my hands covered in the blood of the injured. Their blood not only stains my skin, it stains my soul

The patients I have lost live forever in my mind. Enough blood has already been spilled onto our streets. With all the violence that is happening, why can’t we prioritize our feelings and support a non-violent means of expression? He is nonviolently expressing his fear, his anger over what is happening by kneeling. He’s not turning his back. He’s not burning anything. He isn’t breaking into a building, or throwing rocks at police. He is kneeling, which is still a position of respect. A man kneels to ask a woman to become his wife. People kneel to pray. And he is bringing attention to an issue that should be in all of our minds and on all of our hearts.

As Americans, regardless of race, we should be encouraging non-violent means of communication, and kneeling during our National Anthem, is one of them. I’m not saying everyone should sign up for the Colin Kaepernick fan club, but what I am saying is that we should stop focusing on the how of the protest and start focusing on the why of the protest. The only way for there to not be an “us” and “them” is to allow each other to not only speak, but also to be heard.  

So, White America, I encourage all of us to put on the hearing aids, and start listening.

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7 Indisputable Facts for Moms of 7 Year-old Boys

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My little guy won’t be 7 much longer but here’s what I have learned in the past year about 7 year old boys.

Embed from Getty Images1) They don’t have an off switch. It’s constant full speed ahead until, of course, they spontaneously combust. For both the hyperactivity and the ensuing meltdowns, I suggest you invest in a good pair of ear plugs and an eye mask. There’s not point in fighting it and these tools will make you better at ignoring it.

Embed from Getty Images2) They have no fear. They will jump off of, charge into, ski down…, just about anything without consideration of the bones, ligaments, or internal organs at risk. The good news is, 7 year old boys are pretty resilient and most wounds at this age will heal without consequence. So enforce basic common sense and personal safety (e.g., helmets, no diving in shallow water, look both ways before charging forward) but let them wear their wounds like badges of honor.

3) They are always hot. They will wear shorts to school until December. In the middle of winter they will be shirt less when everyone else is clad in fleece. It will be -11 out (yes, that’s a minus sign and I don’t live in Antarctica) and they will refuse to wear a jacket. Be grateful for heated throws, Northface, and UGGs and just agree to disagree on the actual ambient temperature.

4) They love all sports. Even if you never encourage athleticism they will beg until they are blue in the face to do gymnastics, and football, and lacrosse, and skiing, and baseball, and karate, and soccer, and golf…. (You will wonder how they even learned about lacrosse.) Before you know it you will have committed all of your weekends for the next decade to your kid’s athletic pursuits so find a good family calendar.

Embed from Getty Images5) They know more about technology than you do. You may think you are savvy at limiting screen time but when your iPhone is on the futz they can fix it. If you want to rally for family movie night, you will have to rely on them to change the input on your AV system to Netflix. Oh well, you suck at IT but you may have future engineer on your hand.

Embed from Getty Images]6) They have fleeting interests (other than sports). Your dog will get a bowel obstruction from all the elastics that no longer are needed in that damn loom. You will realize the deep, searing pain of stepping on legos because all of those elaborate sets never make it back into their original boxes. You wonder is it Pokemon they are obsessed with or Minecraft… and one day you will find him doing Sudoku?! Well at least none of the above involve screen time.

Embed from Getty Images7) They don’t really want to snuggle anymore. They have too much kinetic energy to want to curl up with their mammas. They’d rather be doing something dangerous. They’re too hot to be tucked into your heated throw with you. You won’t be able to overcome the House Hunters vs. SportsCenter divide necessary for the TV watching snuggle. They are mad at you because in your technology errant ways you unintentionally offed one of their favorite tech toys. They are more interested in being big boys than little boys. You miss the old days.

And your heart breaks just a little as that 8th birthday approaches. Sniff.