I remember when I first moved to New Orleans. With the name “Katrina” it seems like everyone, upon meeting me, is either armed with a witty joke or a lack of reception. Initially, it was hard to take. I remember a tweet I delivered awhile back. Something along the lines of “Why does Sarah get this beautiful love ballad and I get a hurricane named after me?” Crickets… This I have come to accept.
Next was my introduction as a football wife. Some were infatuated with my lifestyle, some indifferent, but most only caring enough to address me as “Jabari Greer’s wife.” Talk about an identity crisis!
However, none of these pre-judgements or labels surprise me. I have become accustomed to them, and it is more about meeting people where they are and less of who I know I am.
Some time ago, I picked my 5 year-old son up from school and he looked a little down. I asked him what was wrong and though hesitant he finally said,
“A girl told me at school today she couldn’t marry me because I was too dark.”
My first instinct was to apologize to him for the young girl’s harsh words, stop the car, hug him better, and say that girl didn’t deserve him. And though he did seem to feel better and we continued on with our day, I realized that myself and my son needed an answer as to WHY anyone would think this way. WHY – without even being given the opportunity to win this “fair” maiden’s heart – had she already dismissed his love as not good enough? I felt defeated. I am sure my son felt the same way.
I am a product of a very diverse and multi-cultural family. My children are representatives of this and I hope to instill these values in them. Their minds are flooded with stories and images that represent diversity and a more colourful representation of the world they will grow up in. This is their reality. Instilling that their goals have no ceiling and there are no limitations to what they can achieve, who they are, and who they choose to be with.
Some may say that I am shielding them to the restrictions and labels that our society has already put on them. Have I built them up so high that when words like “you are too dark” are spoken, it can be so confusing as to break their spirit? In my opinion, no more so than the parent that tells their child they are smart, handsome or beautiful, even though not everyone will think so.
I think all of us, as parents, can relate to the sinking feeling of whether to prepare our children for the many challenges they may face in the future. Do we protect their innocence and just “hug” it better?
That evening, I kissed my son goodnight and wondered why his innocence had to be protected at all. The environment we create for our children lends to who they become. I will not teach my children to feel as if they are less than because of the colour of their skin. Our country has not yet righted the wrongs, and that is not a foundation to build upon. I will continue to instill a celebration of self and others; confidence, kindness and compassion. All children should know that though we are to be patient and humble with most, and meet people where they are, courage and evolution brings us outside of the box and affects change. Be the change you want to see in this world. Even if you live in New Orleans with the name Katrina.
Katrina Greer is a proud mummy of three bilingual children, Jeshian, Elias and Isadore. Her husband is a retired Saints player, and their love for New Orleans has kept them NOLA proud. Owner of The French Library, a new children’s French book shop on Magazine Street, you can follow her whereabouts on Instagram at french_library or on Facebook at The French Library. She no longer has a Twitter account 😉