Because you don’t want something to be as it is ~ does not make it not be as it is. Telling your son that he is equal to everybody else does not make him dismiss reality. He is very aware that he is spoken to/at differently. That their smiles hold a wariness, or a “Poor kid – you know it’s got to be hard for him living there…” You son is fully aware that he is perceived as “less than, wounded, need to keep an eye on, a B is probably the best he can do…” And stop quibbling on language. Don’t get angry about it. Anger does not change reality. But please, do not deny reality. Pretentious blindness does nothing to change reality…and it surely does not help him navigate those waters. If you want your son to look beyond race ~ then say that. Tell him: “Don’t let it be a block,” “Don’t let it define you,” “Climb over it,” “Show yourself what you’re made of”… Use all those wonderfully supportive phrases – and back them up! But never ever tell him that race does not matter. Because he knows differently. Because he is going to look at you as the biggest liar in the whole world. Because he trusted you to protect and guide him. Be kindly – but truthful. “RACE DOES NOT MATTER” is a lie. Don’t ever lie to your son – definitely not about that!!
Archive for the ‘Black History Month’ Category
M.P. recently wrote me a sweetly ill-informed response to a guest article I penned for the Progressive Magazine. (see February issue). I thought I’d share my response in an open letter. We all might learn something.
Dear Mark: Let me first thank you. For without engagement, even if powerfully and aggressively half-educated, we will not move forward. You do advance a strong point…not around the issue of illegitimacy, as that in and of itself is non-causative. There has been no identified causal relationship between a child born out of wedlock, parents who choose not to marry, divorced parents, adoptive children, or children born to same-sex parents and what you so aptly term “the fate.” I recognize your word-choice “illegitimacy” and “impregnating” as a fevered attempt at inciting divisiveness. Again, I smile in acknowledgement. Your use of those terms is “nice” but your argument lacks legitimacy. (I am using your own words – pretty cool eh!) What you allude to, and I agree with, is a too-early sexual maturing of many of our young men. This tends to be needs and environmentally-based. Any environment lacking in adult, male influence and supervision will demonstrate this. (please see,http://thesestonewalls.com/gordon-macrae/in-the-absence-of-fathers-a-story-of-elephants-and-men/) Why this environment consistently lacks male adult presence, is socially and historically based. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. One of your greatest challenges though Mark, is the stalled perception of singularity. I would strongly encourage you to expand your readiness to learn on this issue, because we do need you as a partner in this change.
Thank you so much for sharing.
I’ve been sitting her thinking of something very profound to say. It is Black History Month after all. I was looking for things to push up to the sun and celebrate. I was looking for these great achievements. And I got more and more sad and stuck. So I thought I’d share my ten top wishes with you
- I wish that we as Black adults would apologize to our children for somehow leaving them the impression that we had arrived.
- I wish that we as Black people would take responsibility for teaching our children their history, and not leaving it White educators. Schools have their place. Do your job. That is why our kids think that the “N” word is cool!
- I wish we could truly understand how coupling education with property taxes cripples our children.
- I really wish that rappers, entertainers, and athletes with money begin investing in our children’s education. Open schools!
- I wish they’d find me something other than a White savior…one who looks more like me.
- I wish we could find more rounded stories of our history to recreate in the form of a movie. Give me some balance. There must be other stories you could find.
- I wish I could hug the creators of the two biracial advertisements. One is with the cereal. The other is with the swift-duster.
- I wish our school choirs and choruses would inject one or two African American songs in their repertoire. Not the same tired Negro Spirituals. It just might encourage my kids to join and parents to attend.
- I wish we would stop parading ourselves with food and song & dance every February, for some idiots to pat us on the back. Stop shining shoes!
- Did I mention that I wish my Savior looked a bit more like me. Little dark tan and rounded nose would help.
But I’m not going to hold my breath. I have not seen evidence of us jogging just yet. We’re still in the walking chair.