February 16, 2016


A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about casual racism and micro aggression, a friend of mine let me share her story on this platform READ THAT POST HERE and I am so thankful for it. It sparked something within me and I wanted to start a series of similar posts to share throughout the month. I reached out to friends and family inviting them to share their stories with me on this blog. The next story in the series comes from my cousin, as she talks about her son's experience as a little black boy in Boston, Massachusetts. Already at the tender age of 5, he is experiencing disgusting ignorance from his peers. He is facing ugliness about his black skin and being made to feel less than by someone near in age, but where did that child learn those things? I always get frustrated when I hear people PROCLAIM that racism is dead because the generations that formulated it our dying out. I want to ask them what does it feel like to be so blissfully ignorant? One is not born hateful, you must be careful taught. Our experience in life shape our perception of the world and when the people of influence in our children's lives repeat negative stereotypes the cycle continues. When you make that causal joke about a person's sexuality, race, religion and you think that your child isn't listening, guess what they hear you, and then they take it to school and spread it like a virus. Thank you Ash and K for sharing your story, you are so loved by many. 

I can tell you stories about myself and what I have faced as a young black woman. We have all heard it. But instead I will share what my 5 year old son has faced as a young black boy. He attends a public school in the good ole northeast. My son had two situations that made me question the school and the environment he was in. Last year my son kept making comments and asking questions about the color of his skin. He asked me why did I have him with a black man and not a white man? Why is his color darker than mine? After some time I was able to pry information from him. He stated to me that during after school  an older student told him that 'white people are smarter than black people.' He would not give me any information on the student except that he was a white older child that attends his school. I was in complete shock. I was angry. He then described another situation in which a different student in his class told him that 'black ants do not like black people.' That one I was puzzled about but it was still upset from the first comment. I ended up reaching out to the principal of his school and his teacher. They were very apologetic and concerned. I am one of the co-chairs of the schools Parent Council, and thus I get some insight on the school. I learned that there has been other situations circling around race.  The school is located in what once was a diverse neighborhood but over the last few years the neighborhood has changed  becoming predominately white upper/middle class. Median cost for homes in the area are about $400,000 now. The new school year has began, my sons school is now working with an outside company to assist with the issue of race. They have met with teachers and will now have a 4 week discussion with parents around race.  

It breaks my heart that in 2016, these are the conversations that we still have to have with 5 year olds. Working in urban education I have seen the opposite of this coin, my students who have serious mistrust of my white colleagues because they have been taught that all white people are awful liars out to get them or they are the police, in which they definitely cannot be trusted (not my sentiment). I tried to engaged my students in honest conversation and be always be mindful of the things I said around them. It was also super important that the teams that I worked on and managed were so diverse because they got to see people of all backgrounds working together in a positive way; I am not a parent and at the end of the day I cannot tell people what to do with their children. But if you're going to be ignorant, then you can't be surprised when you kids pick it up as well. What I can say is if you are afraid to have difficult conversations around race or culture with your kids, do some googling, find a picture book and get to it. You do not have to do it alone. To my cousin and her very bright and precocious son I say this "Hey Black Child, Do you know where you are going.Where you're really going. Do you know you can learn. What you want to learn?", from "Hey Black Child" by Useni Eugene Perkins or Countee Cullen (a little unclear) . Check out adorable three year old Pe'Tehn Kem reciting it from heart in the video below. 

*this poem is by Useni Eugene Perkins, the video has it listed as Maya Angelou

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