To Those Struggling with Being a Liberal Parent in a Conservative State,

To Those Struggling with Being a Liberal Parent in a Conservative State,

We’ve all seen and heard plenty of outlandish things: “If It Ain’t White It Ain’t Right! Don’t Say Gay! Trump 2020! God Hates Gays!”

Being a liberal millennial woman of color in Texas comes with many challenges — some scarier than others. You are constantly navigating complex issues like racism, homophobia, ignorance just to name a few — but to throw motherhood into the mix can be absolutely frightening.

I am the mother to a 4-year-old son and we live in Texas (unfortunately).

My experience in Texas has been extremely difficult and at times disappointing on many levels. Growing up in Oklahoma was hard, but living in Texas and dealing with ignorance in a way that is so loud has been incredibly draining. The generations before mine can be so stuck in their ways that it seems as though there is nothing we can do to turn Texas blue. They literally vote against their best interest. Insanity.

There are so many reasons why Texas is not a good fit but one of the first reasons is because I believe that Love is Love. Love is a spectrum. Love is queer. The politics in Texas are absolutely dominated by the complete opposite of this message. I’ve heard it all. From “child gender modification” to “men are gonna throw on a dress and go into the women’s restroom to rape.” Experiencing this, consuming hatred in the news and on the streets, has led me to want a different life for my son.

My son will learn pronouns. He will learn the importance of using them correctly and respectfully. He will start Kindergarten next year. His classmates will have a variety of backgrounds, and experiences, and perhaps he will have someone in his class that goes by different pronouns. I don’t want there to ever be a question as to why that is for him. You know why? Cause they’re born that way!

But it’s not just the nuances of gender and sexuality that I want him to not only feel comfortable around, it’s race too. My son will grow up seeing me call out discrimination no matter what. He will learn that we do see color and that color is what makes us beautiful. He will love his brown skin. For me, it is so important to learn about our black and brown brothers and sisters instead of trying to silence them. Black and brown people are the backbone of this country and they keep it going. Racism is learned behavior. Being raised by a white father gave me a different experience because when racism would happen to me I would be almost oblivious to it because my dad wouldn’t even notice. Once, when I was around 8 years old and we were going into a Quik Trip in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, I noticed people staring at me and even giving me dirty looks. My dad just told me they were looking at me because I’m beautiful. I was the only non-white person around. Their looks weren’t of admiration or positivity — they were looks of judgment. I realized then, that my father will never understand. He is white, and of course, that’s not his fault and not even a bad thing, but it does come with some blissful ignorance. It took me befriending black and brown people to help validate my feelings and the experiences I had. Even today I can go into a store and sometimes find myself being followed or noticing that employees are way too interested in what I’m doing as if I’m trying to steal. I never want my son to feel that pain and disgust. It makes me sad that the color of my skin has such a negative impact for no reason at all.

All of these experiences have absolutely had an impact on the way I have chosen to approach motherhood. I want my son to have countless friends and partners in life or love that are on all sides of the spectrum of love. In Texas, one of the hardest parts is being around so many people that think it’s okay to make comments, laugh, or point at a couple just trying to live their life. Even worse, the miseducation that occurs simply by being in a state (or really a country) that refuses its own history can be so disheartening. It took me downloading TikTok to learn about the whitewashing that I have experienced in the school curriculum growing up in Oklahoma, from what little they taught on the history of indigenous people. Oklahoma is Native America so it’s really such a shame they don’t tell the brutal history of what the colonizers have done and continue to do.

The struggles of being a liberal mom of color in Texas infiltrates everything. My experience with raising my son, my own self-reflection, and of course my own comfortability. Truthfully, there are so many parts of Texas that I’ve been through where I wasn’t comfortable. It’s 2022 people, I will never understand why and how our country is still so incredibly backwards.

As much as I hope, I know there will be times my son will feel sadness and discrimination. There will be times where he will feel isolated or rejected by the country, government, and system that should be protecting him. But as a mom, you have this burning inside of you to try to stop any bad things from happening to your baby. He will grow and learn and hopefully look up to me for strength and advice. (Though, he might be surprised to learn that my advice might be for us to move the hell outta Texas.)

Truthfully, I just want all the parents out there to realize that even though the state of Texas (and this country) is incredibly messed up and very backwards, it is our job to better ourselves and our communities, so that we may learn from our own mistakes and raise individuals that can truly make this world a better place.

Signed,

A Liberal Mom in Texas

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