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7 Things I Can Do That My Black Son Can’t

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7 Things I Can Do That My Black Son Can’t

Calvin HennickOctober 27, 2014

1e5d8cada480479a9407b3510961124564c42da6

The writer with his son. Photo courtesy of Calvin Hennick.

In the days after the Michael Brown shooting, I wrote an essay titled “I Hope My Son Stays White,” detailing my fears about what might happen to my biracial three-year-old son if he grows up to have dark skin. The upshot: America, to its shame, is still a place where black males are feared, and I don’t want that fear to turn itself on my son in a way that leads to his arrest or death.

I published the piece on Ebony.com, and the reactions from black readers ranged from “sad but true” to allegations that I myself was engaging in the very racism and colorism that I was decrying. But buried among these was a comment from a white reader who accused me of “sucking up to black folk” and then went on to list the supposed advantages of being black in America. (Apparently, according to this reader, my son will have an unearned fast track to a career as an air traffic controller. Um, okay?)

I can’t help but think that, if the essay had been published in an outlet with a larger white readership, many more commenters would have chimed in to deny the continued existence of racism. In my experience, white people (and straight people, and male people, and Christian people — all groups of which I’m a member) tend to dismiss the notion that we’re privileged. It’s an uncomfortable thing to acknowledge that you’re the recipient of unfair benefits, especially when those benefits are often nearly invisible to those who receive them.

But when you’re a parent, those privileges stop being invisible. It’s the reason why male congressmen with daughters are more likely to support women’s issues. It’s the reason why Ohio Sen. Rob Portman suddenly declared his support for same-sex marriage after his son came out as gay. And it’s the reason why, everywhere I look, I see hassles that my son will have to face that I don’t. Here’s a partial list of things I can take for granted, but which will likely be problematic for my son:

1. I Can Walk Through a Store Without Being Followed

To take one high-profile instance, Macy’s and the city of New York recently settled with actor Robert Brown, who was handcuffed, humiliated, and accused of committing credit card fraud after buying an expensive watch at the store.

I never have to worry about this happening to me.

2. I Can Succeed Without It Being Attributed to My Race

When my wife, who is black, received her acceptance letter from Boston College, a peer told her she must have gotten in due to affirmative action, effectively ruining the experience of receiving the letter.

When I succeed, people assume I’ve earned it.

3. I Learned About My Ancestors’ History in School

I can tell you all about Louis XIV, Socrates, and the Magna Carta, but I always wondered when we would finally learn about African history (beyond Pharaohs and pyramids). The subject never came up.

4. I Can Lose My Temper in Traffic

Once, an acquaintance who got into a confrontation while driving told me how scared she was of the other driver, describing him as a “big black guy.” When I get heated, no one attributes it to my race.

5. I Can Loiter in Wealthy Neighborhoods

No one has ever called the cops on me to report a “suspicious person.” My wife can’t say the same.

6. I Can Complain About Racism

When I point out that black people are incarcerated at alarming rates, or largely forced to send their children to underperforming schools, or face systemic discrimination when searching for jobs and housing, no one accuses me of “playing the race card.”

7. I Can Count on Being Met on My Own Terms

If I’m being treated poorly, I don’t stop and think about whether it’s due to my race. But unless we somehow make a giant leap forward, my son will always have to wonder.

Recently, I became a father for the second time. My daughter, only three months old, will grow up to face many of the same challenges as my son, on top of the extra ones that come with being a woman: the struggle for equal pay, the catcalling, the constant threat of sexual assault.

I don’t want to give my children a complex about all of this, but I can’t wish these problems away, either. I can’t eliminate all the unfair hurdles that exist in the world. I can only do my best to raise kids who are able to jump over them.

https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/7-things-i-can-do-that-my-black-son-cant-99408985077.html

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7 Things I Can Do That My Black Son Can’t

Calvin Hennick October 27, 2014

1e5d8cada480479a9407b3510961124564c42da6

The writer with his son. Photo courtesy of Calvin Hennick.

In the days after the Michael Brown shooting, I wrote an essay titled “I Hope My Son Stays White,” detailing my fears about what might happen to my biracial three-year-old son if he grows up to have dark skin. The upshot: America, to its shame, is still a place where black males are feared, and I don’t want that fear to turn itself on my son in a way that leads to his arrest or death.

I published the piece on Ebony.com, and the reactions from black readers ranged from “sad but true” to allegations that I myself was engaging in the very racism and colorism that I was decrying. But buried among these was a comment from a white reader who accused me of “sucking up to black folk” and then went on to list the supposed advantages of being black in America. (Apparently, according to this reader, my son will have an unearned fast track to a career as an air traffic controller. Um, okay?)

I can’t help but think that, if the essay had been published in an outlet with a larger white readership, many more commenters would have chimed in to deny the continued existence of racism. In my experience, white people (and straight people, and male people, and Christian people — all groups of which I’m a member) tend to dismiss the notion that we’re privileged. It’s an uncomfortable thing to acknowledge that you’re the recipient of unfair benefits, especially when those benefits are often nearly invisible to those who receive them.

But when you’re a parent, those privileges stop being invisible. It’s the reason why male congressmen with daughters are more likely to support women’s issues. It’s the reason why Ohio Sen. Rob Portman suddenly declared his support for same-sex marriage after his son came out as gay. And it’s the reason why, everywhere I look, I see hassles that my son will have to face that I don’t. Here’s a partial list of things I can take for granted, but which will likely be problematic for my son:

1. I Can Walk Through a Store Without Being Followed

To take one high-profile instance, Macy’s and the city of New York recently settled with actor Robert Brown, who was handcuffed, humiliated, and accused of committing credit card fraud after buying an expensive watch at the store.

I never have to worry about this happening to me.

2. I Can Succeed Without It Being Attributed to My Race

When my wife, who is black, received her acceptance letter from Boston College, a peer told her she must have gotten in due to affirmative action, effectively ruining the experience of receiving the letter.

When I succeed, people assume I’ve earned it.

3. I Learned About My Ancestors’ History in School

I can tell you all about Louis XIV, Socrates, and the Magna Carta, but I always wondered when we would finally learn about African history (beyond Pharaohs and pyramids). The subject never came up.

4. I Can Lose My Temper in Traffic

Once, an acquaintance who got into a confrontation while driving told me how scared she was of the other driver, describing him as a “big black guy.” When I get heated, no one attributes it to my race.

5. I Can Loiter in Wealthy Neighborhoods

No one has ever called the cops on me to report a “suspicious person.” My wife can’t say the same.

6. I Can Complain About Racism

When I point out that black people are incarcerated at alarming rates, or largely forced to send their children to underperforming schools, or face systemic discrimination when searching for jobs and housing, no one accuses me of “playing the race card.”

7. I Can Count on Being Met on My Own Terms

If I’m being treated poorly, I don’t stop and think about whether it’s due to my race. But unless we somehow make a giant leap forward, my son will always have to wonder.

Recently, I became a father for the second time. My daughter, only three months old, will grow up to face many of the same challenges as my son, on top of the extra ones that come with being a woman: the struggle for equal pay, the catcalling, the constant threat of sexual assault.

I don’t want to give my children a complex about all of this, but I can’t wish these problems away, either. I can’t eliminate all the unfair hurdles that exist in the world. I can only do my best to raise kids who are able to jump over them.

https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/7-things-i-can-do-that-my-black-son-cant-99408985077.html

:pop:


“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge." -Toni Morrison

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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No response. No one wants to hear from a white guy talking about racism.

You know this.


“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge." -Toni Morrison

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

President-Obama-jpg.jpg

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Number three is sad because if you don't know where you're coming from you won't know where you're going. Too much history that is taught is either White/European history or non-White/non-European history that has picked a part or demonized by White/European historians.

An 70 something White professor I had admitted that his Black grandkids had to be careful where they went. Not only were they Black but they were tall. Being big Black young men meant they had to be cognizant of the neighboyrhoods they traversed or lingered because their mere presence is a predominantly White wealthy area could cause problems.

There was an instance where a coworker was describing someone a few feet from us. She said "The big Black guy over there." I asked if she meant the Black guy by the door and she said yes "The big Black guy". I had to remind this lady that her White boyfriend is the same height and build as the "big Black guy".

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Number three is sad because if you don't know where you're coming from you won't know where you're going. Too much history that is taught is either White/European history or non-White/non-European history that has picked a part or demonized by White/European historians.

An 70 something White professor I had admitted that his Black grandkids had to be careful where they went. Not only were they Black but they were tall. Being big Black young men meant they had to be cognizant of the neighboyrhoods they traversed or lingered because their mere presence is a predominantly White wealthy area could cause problems.

There was an instance where a coworker was describing someone a few feet from us. She said "The big Black guy over there." I asked if she meant the Black guy by the door and she said yes "The big Black guy". I had to remind this lady that her White boyfriend is the same height and build as the "big Black guy".

This is because the U.S. is dictating the Historian curriculum that is being taught. I would eventually like a DNA test so I can know exactly where my ancestors came from and learn a little bit more about them. However, this will never change the fact that I am American fist.

Yes. Being a big black person is far worse than being a big person of another race. Which is crazy. My husband is dying to have boys. I keep telling him they will be black instead of Sri Lankan but he insist they will be Sri Lankan first because he is their father. I keep telling him this is not true in America.

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This is because the U.S. is dictating the Historian curriculum that is being taught. I would eventually like a DNA test so I can know exactly where my ancestors came from and learn a little bit more about them. However, this will never change the fact that I am American fist.

Yes. Being a big black person is far worse than being a big person of another race. Which is crazy. My husband is dying to have boys. I keep telling him they will be black instead of Sri Lankan but he insist they will be Sri Lankan first because he is their father. I keep telling him this is not true in America.

Considering the curriculum it would be prudent not leave your kids' education only up to the school.

Oh your husband is in for a rude awakening. Your children will be Black first especially if your husband is a Black Sri Lankan.

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Considering the curriculum it would be prudent not leave your kids' education only up to the school.

Oh your husband is in for a rude awakening. Your children will be Black first especially if your husband is a Black Sri Lankan.

We touched on this subject before. I am a lot lighter than him however I am black and he is a "brown Asian." He doesn't get this. And he asked, if he is not black and I am not black, why will our baby be black?

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Which pretty much proved the author's point.

Unless the purpose of the thread is to portray blacks under unflattering light, few will venture to comment.

No response. No one wants to hear from a white guy talking about racism.


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We touched on this subject before. I am a lot lighter than him however I am black and he is a "brown Asian." He doesn't get this. And he asked, if he is not black and I am not black, why will our baby be black?

Yes because Black covers a range of shades and continents.

I remember when I was younger I asked my father if 2 half White people made a full White baby. :lol:

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we get that all day around here. whether its actual racism or not.

Yes, but this guy actually has a biracial son and he is worried about his "black son's future.

Yes because Black covers a range of shades and continents.

I remember when I was younger I asked my father if 2 half White people made a full White baby. :lol:

:rofl: Kids ask the most curios things.

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Doesn't surprise me that the usual suspects haven't touched this.

They're busy ATM.

http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/520072-ax-attacker-wanted-white-people-to-pay-for-slavery/


“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge." -Toni Morrison

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

President-Obama-jpg.jpg

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