By Attorney David Engler
She was tall with dark skin and high cheekbones. Her friends told her she could be a model. She married a salesman who was as light as she was dark. The romance lasted. Two children that should be on Benetton ads made the family four.
One of the famous images from Benetton’s advertising campaign.
His temper was short from working 12 hours days selling cars. Hers was even shorter. And as the realities of bills and a belief that one didn’t understand the other grew; it slowly churned into the stuff of disrespect.
The divorce came along after seven years and the marriage ended. She went to live with the two kids in a public housing development where the rent was $50 per month. Everyone in the streets knows how to work the college training grants and the for-profit “colleges” encourage the scam. Sometimes if you play it right you can withdraw and still get your money. Food stamps bring in another $600 per month and the Earned Income Tax credit brings a family of three $5000 per year. Add those numbers to a required job, a part-time position at a nursing home and you have a pretty comfortable lifestyle.
The father was still trying to hold onto the marital home bought in the early days of the real estate boom. Money was easier in 2003. He made decent money but after paying taxes, utilities, mortgages, insurance and child support there was less than $200 a pay.
She might have had it easy but she never lost her anger over the split. She was sure it was because she was black and he was white. Trevor’s white dad didn’t understand that giving a child a beating with a switch was a cultural difference. With the black mother talking ‘stuff’ all day long in front of the children the father became sick worrying that his son would grow up believing that whites were the devil. His daughter was already a teen and did as the mother directed. It happens plenty going the other way as well. Sometimes a new step-parent moves in with the children and he is a raging racist. A large, poisonous, portion of the racist’s time is spent thinking about race.
The father believed that racism was as bad as a mother on drugs or a parent that would allow domestic violence to be witnessed weekly. He filed a motion with the Court stating that there had been a change of circumstances and the “best interests” test would demand that the child be relocated to his home. Months of court went by but he was right and “won”. The boy is now being raised out in the country going to a great school and whether he is black or white never comes up. He’s a boy playing with cars in the mud and seeing his mother every other weekend.
Racism is not an opinion that deserves equal weight or the need to turn the other cheek. If someone moves into your house and is a racist, then don’t let him or her in if he or she wants to share their ugliness with your children. If it is your child in that home then you can file a motion seeking a change of custody. It is no less dangerous than someone blowing smoke around an infant. It has no place around children, lest we never want to see racism end.