Wednesday, July 22, 2009
We can't talk about our boys being from Haiti without talking about the fact that they are black. So, here goes the first post for Haiti Week~~~
Braydon and I talk about this all the time-- the fact that people (even white people!) think that little black kids (especially babies! and even boys!) are so very, very, very "cute"... ("ohhhhhhh! they are A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E!!!"/"wouldn't you just LOOOOOOOOOOVE to have eyelashes like that?!"/"Oh gosh, is it o.k. for me to admit it-?!-seriously-?!I-just-think-black-babies-are-sooooo-much-cuter-than-other-babies!!!!!!!!!!!"/squeal/giggle/squeeze the cheeks/tousle the hair)... but those very same people (especially white people) come to view those very same black kids (especially boys) as Predators. With a capital P. Not-So-Cute. With a capital N-S-C. 'When will it happen,' we wonder, 'that our black boys will lose their cutie-ness in the eyes of their larger world?' We know it will happen. Actually, we know that it is happening. (already they look so much older than they are). And it sends shivers up our spines. We talk about it (often) with the black people in our lives. "It will be when they hit puberty!" many have said. "It will be sooner than you think," others warn. "It will happen as soon as they turn 10," a good friend said, "I swear," he told me, "10 is some sort of turning point, it will be as soon as they hit 10." (A lot of people, as it turns out, say 10.) And then there was a series of deep conversations that Braydon had with one of his colleagues awhile back. She swore, based on her own experience as a black mother of black boys, that "it happens as soon as they lose a tooth." That tooth thing was a new one to us. But she was so convincing that we've been fearing and dreading the Tooth Fairy ever since. (which is tough, since Kyle and Owen are extraordinarily excited --and just cannot wait-- for the glorious day that they lose their first tooth... to the point that they regularly try to convince us that their teeth are loose... and we worry that they'll tug and pull on their teeth so much in their efforts to convince themselves that they are loose, that they will make them loose). Anyway, you get my point: it is going to happen, and it is going to happen sooner than we'd like (because, of course, what we'd like is for the world to just go on forever thinking that our beautiful black boys are just that-- beautiful black boys). So, like everybody else who is or has ever been a parent, we see time moving way too quickly, and we see our little babies-toddlers-pre-schoolers-little-boys being taken away from us way too fast, and we see the Big Boys that are taking their place appearing much too often. But, unlike parents of kids who aren't black boys, we have this whole immense other layer of sadness-concern-dread-fear-and-loathing weighing on us as we watch them grow. We know what the future will bring. And there is a huge dimension of it that we desperately wish we could postpone. Forever. Because we just desperately wish that the parents of the little white girls who now ask them to go to their birthday parties would be just as thrilled ten years from now about their daughters asking our sons to go out on dates or to the prom. And we just desperately wish that their teachers, who now think that they are "sweet rambunctious little boys" would not turn on us later, thinking instead that they "trouble makers" with "behavioral problems." And we just desperately wish that our boys would never be followed around in a store, suspected of shoplifting, pressured to get out. And we just desperately wish that people would never subconsciously (or consciously?) move out of their way --conceiving of them as Thugs-- on the sidewalk or in the elevator or in the lobby or wherever. And we just desperately wish that our boys would never have trouble hailing a cab. Or getting help from the police if they needed it. Or convincing somebody that they are just as legitimate as anyone else in whatever way they need to be seen as legitimate. And yet, we know, that no matter what we do, it is all bound to happen. There is a structure in place. It is ominous and looming. Regardless of who is President. And all we can really do is prepare them for it. Prepare them for the fact that no matter how high up they get, no matter how expensive their suit will be, no matter how drop-dead-gorgeous they become, they will still be, after all, Black Men. If you haven't been reading about it yet, you really should be:
David Wall Rice from The TakeAway
and if you have just a little more time, you should really read this too:
Jimi Izrael from The Root
and if you are interested in all this, then this is a must-see:
Cornel West and Carl Dix on Democracy Now!