Yesterday, the Internet learned that reality TV star and future wife of rapper Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, has been going through growing pains. No, I don’t mean binge watching the ’80s sitcom while staying indoors and away from the paparazzi. I’m talking about the unfunny kind of growing pains that moved her so much that she took to her blog and wrote an essay about it -- her newfound concerns over racism and discrimination in America since the birth of her 11-month-old daughter North West:
“To be honest, before I had North, I never really gave racism or discrimination a lot of thought. It is obviously a topic that Kanye is passionate about, but I guess it was easier for me to believe that it was someone else’s battle.”
Call me crazy, but I think it’s a little strange for someone who was born and raised and has been living in this country for 33 years to just now “discover” centuries-old systemic racism as if it’s a deep cut from Prince’s musical catalogue. Racism and discrimination have always been right there - in plain sight - on the fabric of America like a tacky turquoise brooch on my aunt’s Aztec sweater.
This is not to say that if you are in an interracial relationship you should immediately crash a historical reenactment in Colonial Williamsburg, and then rub your United Colors of Benetton-clad love in the faces of all those powdered wig-wearing white folk. However, this issue should not even remotely be news to her.
And I write this from personal experience. I, too, am in an interracial relationship -- my boyfriend is white -- and he and I have encountered our fair share of foolish comments ranging from “J/K, but not really” disappointment that I’m with a white guy to a black gentleman yelling at us, “Why aren’t you dating an African prince?” Well, I live in Brooklyn, so I’m more likely to end up with the Pauper of Dunkin Donuts, but I digress. Even if you haven't personally dealt with what I have personally dealt with, that's no excuse from being detached from a major source of contention in this country.
I recognize that it can be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security if you’re wealthy and famous. One can shield themselves from what’s happening in the world and get to a point where things don’t appear to affect or apply to them.
Having a child changes a lot of people in a lot of ways. Take for example, the GOP Senator Rob Portman, who changed his views on gay marriage once his son came out of the closet. Prior to this, Portman was vehement in his anti-gay marriage stance. While I’m grateful for his change of heart, as I am for Kardashian’s, the fact remains that not everyone is going to have children who will teach them. And not everyone who already does have children is going to learn this lesson about discrimination.
There has to be some way -- outside of personal experience -- to be citizens of the world. To be less distant and more connected to what ails those of a different skin color, or gender, or sexual orientation. We are all someone’s sons or daughters. So we should try and treat each other that way and realize that the world’s baggage is all ours to carry.