I always wanted a son. As long as I can remember when dreaming of being a mother, I always pictured myself with one child…a boy. In that dream, I never thought about what it would be like raising an African American boy in this society.
In lieu of the racist statements recently made by LA Clippers coach, Donald Sterling and the murder of Travon Martin, it is a shame that I have to have a conversation with my 10 year old son, about racism, how to act around police officers and other people who wish him harm.
I encourage my son to watch the news in the morning, instead of cartoons, as he gets ready for school, so that he knows what is going on in the world. Our drives to school are generally spent discussing what he saw that morning on the news and me answering questions about it.
Facing the reality
When my son asked why he wasn’t allowed to go to a Clippers game, it took me by surprised. I was listening to the news as I got ready for work and I didn’t recall them saying that…at least not in those words. When my son went on to explain that one of the kids said it at school, I was shocked. I was shocked that children were discussing current events with one another on the playground instead of playing. I was also angry that a child would say that to my son.
I masked my anger, as best I could and asked him if he had heard about the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers making statements about Black people on the news. He said he had heard a little about it and I explained that the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers had basically stated that he didn’t like black people, even though he owned a team which was made up of several African American men.
I asked him if he had played for the Los Angeles Clippers, and his boss said that he didn’t like him and some of his teammates because of the color of their skin, would he want to play basketball for that team. His response was, “No, because it wouldn’t be right.” I had to agree with him.
Standing up for what you believe in
I went on to explain that although the Clippers were in the playoffs and that they had played really hard to get there, that as a man and as a person, in general, you have to stand for something. You cannot do things just because your friends or the rest of the team is “going along.” If you believe that something isn’t right, you need to speak up and stand for what you believe in.
I also reminded him of people like Martin Luther King, Jr and Medger Evers who lost their lives because they stood up for what they believed in and fought for civil rights of not just African Americans, but all minorities.
Now here is where things get tricky because as an African American boy growing up to be a man in this society, his value is almost worthless. Standing up for what you believe in can get you killed in this society and even if you are protecting yourself, you can be killed. Unlike my white counterparts, African American mothers have to teach their sons about being safe when they leave the house and that all police are not their friend and that you have to be careful when stopped or confronted by one.
The crazy thing is that as a mother raising an African American boy, I pray that my son survives in this cruel world that we live in. I pray that no one will assume that he is up to no good because of his skin color and a hoodie. I pray that he is never confronted by a racist police officer who is looking for a reason to shot him because of his skin color and call it “self-defense.”
I pray that my son is not killed by gang members and that he simply gets the chance to grow up and grow old. By not being afraid to discuss the topic of racism and what is going on in our society, especially as it relates to the African American community, I hope that I am instilling the importance of awareness; rather it be in his surroundings or what people say or how they treat him because of the color of his skin.
I also hope that I am making him understand that a the end of the day, you have to “stand for something or fall for anything and I am raising him to be the type of man that will always stand for something.