Interview: Biracial College Student Shares How She Was Disowned By White Mother For Defending Colin Kaepernick
Growing up, Kiara Lawhon wasn’t into politics. Born to a white mother and Puerto Rican/African-American father, Lawhon simply didn’t share an interest in the issues that plagued the nation in the 90s.
It wasn’t until police killings of unarmed black and brown people of color found its way back into the public conversation in the late aughts that Lawhon began building her political consciousness. Lawhon’s newfound knowledge has now changed her life, for better or worse.
It all began one Sunday (Sept. 24) when the 20-year-old posted her reaction to the dozens of NFL athletes who took a knee during the several games on Facebook. The act was in solidarity of Colin Kaepernick and a clapback of sorts to President No. 45, who called NFL players “sons of bi**hes” who should be fired for kneeling during the National Anthem.
Her post was liked by a few friends who were happy to share recent view points on the matter from The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah and CNN’s Don Lemon. One person who wasn’t happy about the subject was her mother. The Sports Management major shared their fiery conversation on Twitter, which went viral.
Lawhon’s patience with her mother might’ve earned her more praise online, but it’s left her without any financial support. Lawhon shared with VIBE that her mother has cut her phone off and has refused to pay for her college tuition.
Speaking via email, Lawhon talks about her appreciation for Colin Kaepernick and her political divide with her mother.
Was this the first time you and non-black members of your family have had debates?
Lawhon: Yes, this is the first time we have had debates on anything political. Growing up, I was not very into politics and didn’t pay much attention. Due to recent events that have happened in the world, I began researching and educating myself and began speaking out for my beliefs.
Growing up in a white family, they disagree with how I feel and refuse to understand my side of things. This has led to a lot of tension between my family and I, but I’m going to continue supporting the ‘Take The Knee” movement and any other peaceful protests that fight against racism, inequality, social injustice, and police brutality.
Your mom mentioned that you didn’t vote. What was that conversation like?
Long story short, my mom basically told me that because I did not vote, I am not allowed to speak out on issues this country is facing. The reason I did not vote in the 2016 election is because, like I mentioned, I was not extremely educated on the politics and I did not want to vote on something I did not completely understand. I also tried to register as a voter, but it was too late. I have educated myself since then and I let her know that I will continue supporting what I feel is right.
What was your first reaction to her messages?
My first reaction to her messages was disappointment. A part of me wanted to be angry, but I also realized that she simply does not understand because she is not apart of the many people that face racial inequality and injustice every single day. I’m not disappointed because she feels that I am wrong, but I am disappointed because she made no effort to understand where I, as a biracial woman that has endured racism in her life, was coming from.
There are people everywhere that do not kneel for the anthem, but still respect and try to understand where those that do kneel are coming from. She would not hear me out about anything I had to say.
As a biracial woman, what are some things you’d want to share with non-black parents with mixed children?
I would tell these parents to allow their children to express their feelings, support their people, and participate in any peaceful protests they deem necessary. They may not always agree, but they need to try and understand. With all due respect, a white individual cannot speak on, or for, the people of color that go through traumatizing experiences every single day. Even if nothing has directly happened to their child, it is happening to plenty of people that look just like their child. If you cannot understand or empathize with the problems of black people, as well as many other people of color, face every single day, do not have biracial children.
What does Colin Kaepernick’s protest mean to you?
Colin Kaepernick is a beautiful soul that promotes positivity and change that needs to be seen. I want to emphasize that this protest is not in any way shape or form meant to disrespect our military or the amazing people that have fought for this country. This also does not mean that people hate America, because we don’t.
This protest is aimed at raising awareness to the many problems Americans face every day. We are taking a stand against social injustice, police brutality, racism, and inequality of all people. People are not going to stand for a flag or song that is meant to symbolize freedom and equality for all people when the system continuously fails us over and over again.
This is a peaceful protest that is meant to send a message. Colin Kaepernick deserves so much love and respect, but instead he is without a job and receiving hate from people who refuse to understand where he is coming from. I stand with him, and the many other people speaking out for change.
Lawhon plans to apply for grants and job hunt to pay for her tuition. In the meantime, she’s launched a GoFundMe to help her purchase textbooks and other things needed for the semester. You can find it here.