A Public Statement from My Wife, Rai King, about the Attacks on Our Family
Everyday my family lives with the full weight of the work that Shaun does. It is difficult, at times depressing, and due to the violent and divisive climate of our country, it is also dangerous. As a mother of 5 children, I would like nothing more than for Shaun to work a “regular” job where he was mostly anonymous. I wish he clocked in, clocked out, and used Instagram and Facebook to post kitten videos. I have come to accept, however, that speaking truth to power, aggressively seeking justice, and launching public fights in the interest of equity for all, is the calling of his life.
What I haven’t accepted, and will never accept though, is the unnecessary toll such work has taken on our family. When we are out in the world living our lives, people are mostly good and kind. They say hello, thank him for his work, ask for a selfie, and then carry on about their business. But every so often people are ugly and cruel. Today has been an example of such a day. That someone would knowingly call in a vicious, outlandish, false report of abandonment, neglect, and abuse concerning our children is completely unconscionable! As a former teacher with the NYCDOE, I am aware that there are too many children in this community who are in actual need of intervention. That some white supremacist or disgruntled person would waste the city’s limited resources to randomly call in false information that severely puts my family in harm’s way, and drive workers away from their important work, truly baffles me. We live in a sick and depraved world.
While I choose not to even dignify the lies by explaining why they are so incredibly false, I will say that my children are a visible and active part of the community in which we live. They have teachers, camp counselors, church youth group leaders, parents of friends, etc. who are a part of their daily lives. There are literally dozens of people who have first-hand knowledge of my children’s well-being. So while I am not concerned about the merits of such foolishness, I am concerned about how the situation arose, and how it was handled by ACS officials.
I have been a teacher for nearly 16 years, across several different states, and countries. I have been a mandated reporter for all of my adult life, and have sadly had to report signs of neglect and abuse in my role as an educator. I have cried as I watched my 6 year-old student ride with police to the police station to give statements about abuse he was suffering at home. I was filled with anxiety as I reported about a foster child being sent to school wearing shorts and no coat in 30 degree weather. So I respect the people who do this very difficult work, and would never want to do anything to undermine the systems our government has in place to protect vulnerable children. However, there must be action taken when the system is abused and resources are wasted.
There are likely many thousands of people who are delighted to make my family’s life difficult simply because of the work Shaun does. So while I have no desire to suggest that ACS workers should not do their job, I hope I am not expected to submit my children to the emotional trauma of being questioned by agents of the government every time a white supremacist or random crazy person decides to make trouble. I also hope we will one day very soon get to a place in this country where people can fight for what they believe in and fight for a better world without having to risk their actual lives, and the well-being of their families to do so.
I appreciate everyone who has reached out to be of assistance as we work through this latest attack. Every time we have to make phone calls and interact with “higher- ups” I am reminded of the privilege we are afforded while so many others are left to defend their rights on their own. Shaun and I have access to lawyers and political networks, and will be fine eventually-even if we are currently stressed beyond belief. But I am thinking of the parents at the border who have been illegally separated from their children and are still struggling to have them returned. I am also thinking of the mothers living in low-income housing run by slumlords who threaten them with a call to ACS if they dare to report on the hazardous living conditions, and lack of access to basic resources like heat and water with which they are living. Who is advocating for them when ACS is being used as weapon instead of an agent of protection?
I will never get used to the exposure that comes with having a husband who is a public figure. I wish no one knew my name, and certainly not the names of my children. I wish Shaun still wanted to be a small-town, country preacher like he did when we met at 16. I hate that we have to make such incidents public in order to fully protect ourselves. I want our systems to protect children. I’ve spent my life doing this very thing. I also want our systems to be just and efficient so that they are better able to move swiftly when credible claims are levied.