How to explain to a six-year old…

My son asks—
“why are those people walking,
where are they going?”

How to explain to s six-year-old what he is witnessing
is a culmination of hundreds of years—
of systemic racism, colorism, oppression, and frustration?

I begin with the concept of fairness.
Some people are treated badly, unfairly,
because of the color of their skin.
He blinks at me with reflective eyes or uncertainty,
I am not sure which.

He responds at last with a question,
“why are they shooting those people?”

How to explain to a six-year-old—
there are good people and bad—
good and bad cops too?

How to explain to a six-year-old
that some of our own family,
grandfather, father, and uncle
have been subject to racist systems, people, and words
because of their brown color, the roll of Spanish off their tongues—
their last names?

How to explain to a six-year-old
who just wants to play Legos
and loves his friends and family no matter their
color, religion, orientation, gender, or race?

How to explain to a six-year-old that one day…
we will all be kind to one another
just as his teachers and parents have asked him to do?

My hope and prayer for him and his sister,
they will not need to think or ask–
how to explain to a six-year-old—racism?

Margaret Cantú-Sánchez is an Instructor of English at St. Mary’s University where she teaches various composition and literature courses with a focus on Latinx theory and literature. Her various academic publications explore approaches to teaching Latinx literature and theory. Margaret’s poetry has been featured in the Texas Poetry Calendar 2021, Pecan Grove Review, and the San Antonio Review. Her writing often focuses on her childhood experiences growing up and spending time with her maternal grandparents in the Rio Grande Valley. Read other articles by Margaret.