HomeAmericaOpinion: What I want to give my son on the run

Opinion: What I want to give my son on the run

I didn’t know what was wrong, but as soon as I talked to him, he cried back – we were communicating with each other. He turned to me, twisted his little torso, reached out and grabbed my little finger. And when we were talking together like this, his skin was filled with the light of glass painted in the color of the heart from that frightening blue.

Almost two and a half years later, he’s still reaching out for me, he’s still listening to me – although it’s very different now. He’s looking at me; He’s watching how I react to the world, and he’s copying me. Everything I say is learning from me.

He’s also inheriting and racial identity from me, and I’ll tell him about his parents’ Irish and German heritage, but also, because we live in America, how he’ll be seen, recognized, and grown up ” White.”

And that’s when his comments become questions, and someday he asks me, “‘What does it mean to be white?” It makes me wonder, what am I communicating to him? How am I, as a white parent, going to discuss race with my white child?

Questions without answers should still be asked

I certainly don’t have the answers to all of these questions. But it’s also clear how important it is for me to prioritize them now so that we have a basis for this conversation as it develops – which it will be.

He’s a kid now, and the way we communicate about race will change over the years, but discussing race, racism, and privilege as fundamental and habitual as we have compassion, empathy. And community is about, seems inevitable.

When we are given a language for equality and justice, we can act with greater care and commitment in working with those who have been doing it for so long. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that, as white parents of a white child, we should talk as often as possible about our white privilege as a family and how it plays a role in our lives.

Many of my friends who are Black, Indigenous, East or South Asian, or Latinx share with me their conversations with their parents and their children about their racial identities and how to navigate the effects of racism in their lives. has done. As clear-eyed understanding as possible.

My parents and I also talked about racism, yes, but as it relates to other people, as if it was a story about other people and it played no part in my own life. We never spoke directly about our racial identity, about “being white.”

And maybe that was part of the problem. If we talk about “what it means to be white” we have to talk about white privilege, which is the specific effect of racism on my life. While many people who are not white experience personal pain and the suffrage of racism, white people like me benefit directly and indirectly from this so deeply woven into our society. And that’s what I need to talk about with my son.

How did being White at age 12 affect me being hired as a model for magazine ads because the casting director said, “I looked like an All-American guy?” How did my being white affect my interactions with law enforcement at age 17, when I broke the law more than once but was immediately given the benefit of the doubt and told to “go home, be safe and keep your friends safe” Please Keep. ?”

What are the long-term, inter-generational effects of accessing my white grandfather’s education and home loans through GI Bill, My friends who are not white and whose grandfathers fought in the same war didn’t have access because of racism?

Because while the bill may not include specific language of exclusion by race, racist practices by many VA officers, real estate agents, and college admissions administrators in the implementation of the bill’s benefits were deeply excommunicated by race, up to white veterans. Incorrectly privileged access was granted. Opportunities for upward mobility and passing on subsequent financial and educational opportunities to future generations.

where does the restlessness come from

My wife, who, like me, identifies as white, and I want to raise a child who will value and prioritize efforts to end racism in their community, and we need to do as much as we can to do so. It should be as specific as families of color are about the relationship between their own racial identity and how racism affects their community. In our case, that means we need to talk with our son about how his own white privilege will affect his life and the lives of others around him.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not used to talking about my racial identity as a white person. I think many white parents are in a similar situation. I want to talk to my son about race and racism – but even if I don’t talk to him about white privilege, I’m afraid I’m overlooking a big part of the conversation about racism, Especially for him and me.

Part of talking to my son about racism is how white privilege affects his life. We need to speak clearly and honestly about it, at whatever level he is able to process and understand based on his age, so that we can help him better understand that privilege and racism created by How can it participate more effectively in addressing inequalities? .

It’s difficult, partly because there aren’t many models for white families, but in a way I can start these conversations with my son about race, racism, and white privilege, telling the stories of my life and To be specific about how my racial identity played a role in each of those stories.

I can’t always fix it. Ok

The way my son and I communicate with each other is what he sees me doing – or not doing. And it’s this kind of communication that I think is so important to initiate when she’s still a kid.

Because, after all, no matter how much I talk to them about systemic racism, transcendental racism, the legacy of colonialism, and white privilege—no matter what language I use when talking about it—it’s just lip service. If he doesn’t even see me acting like that try in some way to face the reality of that injustice. And that’s something I can start trying to communicate to her through my actions today.

For him to see it, I have to try to model it: whether it’s listening to people who know more about racism and privilege than I do, or acknowledging my privilege when I’m speaking with others. , or putting it to use to work against racial injustice in my community. If I don’t, how can I expect them to believe that working against racial injustice is one of my values ​​and I want them to uphold?

Of course, it is also inevitable that when he listens and watches me, my son will also see me fail. He’ll hear me stumbling through uncomfortable conversations and see me make mistakes when I try to address racial injustice in my community.

But I hope those failures will be part of our conversation too – he and I are learning from our mistakes together so that the next time we try to live with these values ​​in the front of our minds, both he and I can do better. .

While he’s young, my son is still turning to me, crying, communicating with me and although I don’t have the answers to his questions about why the world is like this, I promise him, as I did The first moments of his life, that I would continue to talk with him, and continue to show, so that he and I could work in a way that sums up our values ​​together.


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