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'Racism Is Almost Like A Cancer:' A White Grandmother's Fears For Her Biracial Grandson

Woman in white tank top smiling at camera with oak trees in background
Cathy Carter
"I have eight grandchildren in total, seven of them are Caucasian. I don't worry about them. I have one biracial grandson, and I worry about him and that's not right," said Colleen Reed of St.Petersburg.

As protests against police brutality and racial injustice continue across the country, WUSF is amplifying the voices in our community responding to the calls for change.

Today, we meet Colleen Reed of St. Petersburg.

Reed is not participating in protests but her son and his family are in St. Paul Minnesota, the area where George Floyd died in police custody. She says she worries about them, but says her biggest fears are for her grandson who lives in Gulfport. Her daughter's son is 9 years old and biracial.

"I've always known that there would be some issues that we'd eventually have to talk with him about. But recent events have really gotten me concerned about what I should prepare him for. I never thought it would be quite this dramatic and now I'm not entirely sure what to tell this child. I didn't expect him to have to deal with racism at nine years old. We can't just accept that this is going to be the status quo...

I have eight grandchildren in total, seven of them are Caucasian. I don't worry about them. I have one biracial grandson, and I worry about him and that's not right. I never expected to have to be concerned about one of my children. But because I come from white privilege, it makes a huge difference in my life, and he is not going to have that privilege going forward...

I think that there's a possibility that in his education, he could come across teachers or people in authority that might be a little racially biased, and that might affect his ability to function like any other child. I think that the fact that he's biracial may have an impact on his reality in life. My other grandchildren probably won't have that same experience. Racism is almost like a cancer that we can't seem to get rid of and it's up to us to do something about it. There are things that we can and should do. We don't want to be branded a racist nation. It's not what any of us want so we all have to work hard...

I think we really need to step forward and say, I own this just as much as anybody else does. Black lives really matter and they matter to the extent that we have to move our moral compass into a place that is higher than where we are now. I think when you have a leadership and an administration of our country that doesn't seem to come out for a good moral reason to say something, what message does that send? Why don't we have a zero tolerance for racism? I think it's time."

This story is produced in partnership with America Amplified, an initiative using community engagement to inform local journalism. It is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.