“I can never have a son”, I told a friend recently.
“He’ll be black…”
“Well, chances are that if you do have a son he will be black…but I understand what you are saying”
This conversation was minutes after the grand jury non-indictment of Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. It was a sentiment stated in the heat of the moment only to be exacerbated by the events surrounding the another non-indictment in the death of Eric Garner.
Now, more than ever, I have contemplated what it would mean for me to have a boy, a son. All hypothetical, of course, but the fear remains very real. I would have to have The Conversation with him. I would have to tell him to be extra careful with his movements even in front of those who have sworn to protect and serve him. I have to tell him of a history that I thought was just that; in the past. Any parent is terrified when their child walks out the front door but it’s heightened for parents who have sons of color. How do I explain all of what has happened in the many years - decades - prior to his birth? I am a thoughtful, deliberate person, often wary of my actions; how do I explain to my son - my beautiful boy - that people will often be suspicious of his simply for the color of this skin?
Growing up I was not black enough for the black kids. I "talked white”. I wasn’t “really black’. I was referred to as an “Oreo”. I laughed it all off and tried to make myself different, you know? I wanted for them to like me afterall. I had to be ‘more’ black as if there is such a thing. As such, I never spoke about race, specifically, my race, because if others didn’t think that I was black enough then what could I possibly say? It took me a decade or so but it seems that I have a lot to say about race and why we, as a whole, are so reluctant to discuss what is often the elephant in the room.
I wound up writing two posts in the wake of Ferguson but nothing in response to Eric Garner. Not because I don’t care but because there comes a point when your heart becomes heavy. That heaviness permeates, leaving you exhausted and unable to write anything coherent. It would just be anger and ranting and wondering if this pervasive racism and violence towards protestors is going to be our new normal. I’m just sad. And that sadness has left me silent.
Anyway…here are the posts I have been reading (ok, two were written by yours truly) and thinking about over the last two weeks:
What white people need to know, and do, after Ferguson