I work in a very busy OB/GYN office. All day long, I deal with pregnant women and new mothers. The office has a highly international clientele. This is not the first position I have held in which I deal with people of different races, cultures, and backgrounds. This one is special, however, because it brings me in contact with children and babies of all races, cultures, and backgrounds. Children have a special place in my heart. I have always been good with them and have always enjoyed making them smile.
As I greeted a patient and her family one day, I played peek a boo with her five year old daughter. I asked if she was going to be a big sister as her mother was there for an OB appointment. The patient and her family were Indian. After I checked her in and they stepped away from my window, an unsettling thought crossed my mind.
What if this patient and her family believe that my politeness, friendliness, and concern for their well being are solely part of the role I play in my position in the office? What if the thought crosses their minds that I might consider them terrorists? What if they look at me, a white southern woman, and wonder if I would shoot them or their children if it were dark and they were approaching me?
I have children. Daughters. There have been times in their lives that I have worried that someone may hurt them. I have thought about rape, domestic violence, kidnapping, sex trafficking. I have worried about them dating the wrong guy or getting too drunk at a party.
I have never, however, worried about them being killed solely because of what they looked like. Never.
The idea that there are parents out there who have to worry about that every time their child walks out the door makes my heart hurt. It also makes my heart hurt to see these beautiful children and babies that move in and out of my daily life and think about how there are people in this world that see them as the enemy, evil, abomination, unloveable, inhuman.
Recently a friend of mine posted a link to an article about Syrian refugees. Before I even clicked on the article link, I saw a comment entered right beneath it by someone my friend knew. The comment declared that we couldn’t trust these refugees because they could possibly be terrorists. That they had no love for their own children and that they were monsters who would use their own children as targets, bait, bomb fodder.
I thought about that comment for days. As I watched these families coming in…watching fathers of all races, cultures, and backgrounds hold their toddlers, kissing small hands, quieting tears…watching mothers of all races, cultures, and backgrounds cradle their babies, whispering sweet words into small ears, calming anxious children. I have seen newborns of all races, cultures, and backgrounds, and the beaming smiles, bright teary eyes, and proud pictures of mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles.
I want to tell them all, every single one of them, that my concern for their well being, my concern for their children, is not an act. It is not the mask I wear in my role at work. It is my true nature and my heart. I want to tell them, every single one of them, that I value the lives of their children and that I would protect them if ever the need arose. I want to tell them, every single one of them, that I am not the face of closet racism, smiling at their faces, all sugar and sweet, only to disparage them behind closed doors. I want to tell them, every single one of them, that I love their children despite the fact that they are truly unknown to me. I want to tell them, every single one of them, that their children are safe with me.
I have never worried about my daughters being killed solely because of what they looked like. Never.
I want you to know, though, that I worry about yours every day.
Originally published at medium.com