Looking at old family pictures, I recalled some conversations that I had with my father. Him being an immigrant from Jamaica opened my eyes early to the differences between cultures. As a young boy, I saw life in shades of gray. But moving from NY to FL gave me a far bigger culture shock than any of my experiences living overseas. My father prepared me for the antagonistic black vs. white world by refusing to coddle me. I sometimes ponder what I’ll tell my son based on what his life experiences will be.
I wish I could tell him that he’s not like other black boys. I wish I could tell him that going to the best schools will give him access to better opportunities. I wish I could assure him that his hard work will always be rewarded. I wish I could say that competition in the real world is fair and unbiased. I wish I could tell him that every judgement made about him will be based on facts and merit, nothing more. I wish I could tell my son that in the annals of history, life as a black man changed in 2008.
I wish I could tell him that nobody cares if he loves someone of a different race. I’d be happy if I could tell him that befriending people of other races won’t render him the quota or token of the group. I’d love to be able to tell my black son that as long as he does the right thing, treats others with kindness and respect, and submits to authority, he’s safe. Black fathers could have an easier road in parenting if we had ample proof to show our sons that yes, all men are created equal.
None of those things are true. The things I just spoke of won’t be the life of a black male in America. Let’s keep it real; Barack Obama is the exception that American society would likely not repeat. So it’s a somber feeling to know that I have to tell my son that the dream he’ll read about from a Morehouse-educated orator was a dream that will remain deferred. [Note: I loathe this photoshop image. But the thought process behind it is dichotomous and in proper context]
Son, even when your good enough is good enough, there will be occassions where the mere unchangeable fact that you’re a black male will cancel all that’s good about you out. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to protect you from that terrible feeling.