A Mother And Son Reflect On Being An Anti-Racist Family
Ronda Taylor Bullock co-founded "We Are," a Durham-based non-profit committed to anti-racist education. Ronda is a former Durham Public Schools teacher who focuses on teaching children of all skin colors how to talk about racism and being anti-racist.
She runs an annual summer camp, often attended by her son Zion, who is nine years old. In this installment of our series "Calling for Change," Ronda and Zion get together to ask each other some questions.
On when they first noticed someone treat them differently because of the color of their skin:
Ronda: I was five, and I was in kindergarten. One of my classmates went around and invited everybody at the table to her birthday party except for me… and then I asked her, I said, “Why didn't you invite me to the birthday party?
And she said, Well, you can't come to my birthday party because my dad said Black people are not allowed in our home.” And so, she basically said I couldn't come to her birthday party because my skin was Black.
Zion: That's messed up.
Ronda: It is messed up... Remember when we had that incident in our old neighborhood?
Zion: The kid who was talking to me, he was white, and he said that his mom was crazy. And I was like, “Why?” And he said, “It's because we have a Black person living in our neighborhood. And my heart just fell. I was really sad.
Ronda: You were young. Six is young.
On how they talked about how Ahmaud Arbery was killed:
Ronda: I remember when I told you, you put your hand up and said "Stop. Can we just pause and breathe for a second?"
Zion: Yeah, I definitely remember that because when you told us that happened, me and Zizi started crying. I remember telling y'all to take a pause. So we will remember about him.
Ronda: I feel like you checked me and was like, "Mama, this is sad." Like, we can't just tell the story and move on. Like we need to pause and pay attention that somebody lost their life and that life mattered.
On being a kid through a pandemic, protests and killings by police:
Zion: It's a little rough being a kid right now, especially during this time, because I always feel like something's watching me. And it's about to shoot me... I just feel scared.
Ronda: Yeah, that's heavy. So it was interesting to hear how you described it. Especially because we're talking about guns. We're talking about shooting, we're talking about violence and how you are processing that it feels like someone is chasing you. And I can definitely understand, I definitely understand.
What do you think we should do?
Zion: I think what we should do is do one more protest, but this time, everybody who cares about Black lives and everybody who is Black, can join together and like, make sure all the cops hear what they have to say.
On Ronda's hopes for the future:
Ronda: All the things. I hope that you and Zaire and kids like you all get to grow up and not have race dictate your outcomes, and where you all grow up were the systems that are responsible for caring for you that they are not racist. I hope that's what you all get to experience.
My hope particularly for like black families and brown families is that we get peace, that we get to exist and take breaks and rest.
I think my hope for white families is that they start to do their part. That white families are having conversations like we're having to have and talking about race and about how race is impactful and what does it mean to have white skin in this world.
That is my hope, that white families start to do their part and to stand alongside black and brown voices, so that we can have a much more socially just society. That's what I hope folks do.