Teach our kids to be accepting of all | Southern Utah Photographer

I will be the first to say that I am not claiming to be amazing at this, but I feel that I need to say something.

Southern Utah, photographer, Cedar City, St George, George Floyd, Racism, Light the world

I had no clue for about a few days as to what was going on with the George Floyd story. We had been up hunting and I saw the hashtag floating around as well as some of the influencers that I follow sharing things to their stories.

I finally looked it up one night as I was climbing into bed and watching the video made me so sick to my stomach and ashamed at what I saw.

Growing up the way I did with a Dad that would yell things out of his car window at people as they walked down the street while I cringed in the back seat left me setting goals to be different than he was.

Watching the video of what this officer did and realizing how racism is such a prominent problem still in America brought all of the emotions flooding back.

I write this because every time I have tried to speak about it, it brings me to tears. Tears of sadness at what I saw happen to that man and tears of sadness because I truly don't understand why the color of someone's skin should matter.

Why that officer felt superior in that moment and the fact that if he has kids, they are probably taught with the same beliefs and they are at a crossroad of choosing to become better or falling into the footsteps of their father.

Situations such as these teach us one of two things:

To rise or to follow. There isn't a lot of gray area growing up this way. You either do or you don't and you have to choose. If you go against it, you fear the loss of family because they will be disappointed.

You follow and make them proud, but let yourself down. You are conflicted as to why you chose the way you did and struggle with it for years. The cycle you've lived in continues on until you decide to rise or give up, but you're tired of living life in the passenger seat under someone else's beliefs.

I'm not placing judgement, but rather trying to sit in the shoes of someone else. To try and understand where they are coming from and why.

It begins in the home friends. What we teach our kids behind closed doors is what they will take with them through life. We may think they aren't listening, but they are. We may think they aren't watching, but they are.

We as parents are the examples and eventually our kids will have to choose for themselves or ride in the passenger seat of life with the same old crap they grew up with. Let's teach them that the passenger seat is not an option. They need to rise above for themselves and our future.

When someone is making fun of others for the color of their skin or the way they look, do we sacrifice a few moments of our own comfort to stand up for them when that feeling in our heart that rises telling us that what they are saying isn't right? Or do we sit there in silence or laugh because it's more comfortable?

I remember when I was probably around nine or ten years old driving down main street with one of my cousins and my biological dad. My dad yelled something at someone as they were walking down the sidewalk and to this day I still remember the way it made me feel to see the person's face while they laughed. It was horrifying to me.

I remember choosing in that moment to be better. From a very young age, I chose to rise above my situation and become a better person. I can't remember not having that goal in my mind.

Our past does not define us, it shapes us. It teaches us who we want to be instead of who we need to be. You do you and don't let anyone else make you feel bad for choosing something different.

My situation was rough with my dad. He was not the person I always dreamed of my dad being.

My mom and I never had a close relationship and there wasn't much communication in our home about life, goals, etc.. and I knew I wanted things to be different between me and my kids.

Having kids has taught me a lot. It has taught me to love people a little harder and forgive a little faster.

We have talked a little about race in our home, but mostly about how all people are different and that it doesn't matter what's on the outside, because it's the inside that matters.

We don't decide to accept someone based on the color of their skin. I mean, we are all different shades of white aren't we? Different hair, different eyes, and personalities shaped by where we've come from.

We accept people because of the way they treat us and how we treat them. We strive to be good people that surround ourselves with good people.

I want them to know that the friends they choose should not only lift each other up, but those around them as well. If they see someone being mistreated, I pray they will be strong enough to step in and not stand by.

I hope they'll invite someone they see without friends to sit by them at lunch or chat with them in the hall. I never thought I had to have a discussion on racism because it's not a thing in our home.

Kids are so accepting of all people because they look at them as people. It is what we choose to teach in the home that changes that as they grow. It's how we as parents treat others, the words we speak behind closed doors, and the example set when we are in situations that we need to stick up for others and sacrifice our comfort zone.

It truly takes a village and for us to look within ourselves and see how we are teaching our kids to view the world. They come out with their own view and we either shape that to be better or we change it to resemble our own as they grow up. Let's be the ones that help make the world a better place by teaching our children how to be a light amidst the darkness.

They watch us so much more than we think. They pick up on that snide comment you make about someone under your breath in the car, they listen to what you say when you chat with your friends, they hear how other's speak about people at that BBQ. It's who we choose to surround ourselves with that our kids will also learn from.

We are responsible for the beliefs we teach to them. We lead by example on how to love others, how to not gossip, and how to give up our comfort zone for a few moments to stick up for OUR beliefs and what we know to be true in our own hearts.

We may have been taught differently growing up, but we have the power to change ourselves. To lead by example and teach our kids to stand up for what we know is right. We need more love and understanding that we are ALL different no matter what's on the outside. The differences between us are what makes life fun.

We can learn so much from our kids. The love they have for people regardless of color or how they look is beautiful. Let's tell our children how amazing that is.

Let's teach them how to stand up for the things they believe even though it might be scary. To find a group of friends that will stand united with you and speak up.

Let's teach them that anger is never the answer and love will heal the heart.

Teach them that their feelings are valid no matter what it is, but it's how they react that matters most. To move forward with love and tread the path to healing.

We all need a little more love + light in this world. We are simply people navigating life and doing the best we can.

Some of us will have to let go of long held beliefs passed down through generations and make that mental shift to see that we are all the same on the inside with a beating heart full of love for others. It takes a village to find the Beauty Behind Life's Chaos an