Nazis used to be just a history lesson—but what happened in Charlottesville shows that we need to help our kids fight against hate and intolerance.
My oldest daughter and I gathered with 500 neighbors last night, lighting candles and sharing messages of hope, strength, kindness, and courage in the face of the events in Charlottesville over the weekend. It was exactly what we needed to hear. Because for the very first time in the decade or so since I first became a mother, I feel like I've made a horrible mistake in choosing to become a parent.
My two beautiful daughters are immigrants. They are people of color. And I was naive enough to think I had brought them home to a country that would welcome them, that would embrace them as they embraced my ancestors and countless others who came to our shores seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Immigrants who made our country richer by weaving their traditions and beliefs into our own.
Now I know that I was wrong—that I brought them to a country where there are still too many who would proudly wave the Nazi flag alongside our own, where there are people who would use their fists, their words, and their weapons to intimidate, injure—and even kill—those who speak for peace and tolerance, those who welcome diversity, and those who make up that diversity. And even more disturbingly, so many people in positions of power refused to condemn what happened on Saturday. There were not "many sides" in this issue. There are the people who think that people like my daughters shouldn't even exist in this country—and there are the people willing to fight for all humankind. And our leaders must be on the side of all humankind.
The images and videos of Charlottesville should be a wakeup call to all of us as parents. Because overwhelmingly, the face of white supremacy—the face of hate—was a young face. A college-aged face. These are young people who embraced intolerance and racism, not because they grew up in a less-enlightened era, but because their parents guided them down this hateful path.
One of the most poignant messages from last night's vigil was a call for parents to teach their children to embrace difference, to show tolerance and kindness for others. We were reminded of our duty as parents to ensure that the hate and intolerance stops here. That what we talk about around the dinner table, who we spend time with as a family, and what beliefs we share with our kids matters.
The vigil gave me hope and courage for the fight ahead. I am willing to sacrifice everything to ensure that my daughters have a better and more hopeful future. I just hope that it won't come to that.