Hope For My Sons
A rude awakening!
My eighteen year old son is a freshman in college and I want to say I am so proud of him. He is extremely talented and smart and with hard work I know he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do. With that said, he is beginning to learn some lessons that I hoped he would never have to learn.
As an African American boy, he grew up in a town with a school system that was extremely diverse. With amazing teachers that not only taught but were encouraging and thoughtful. He made friends with kids that were of different races that were open and receptive to him. On any given day, my house would look like a gathering of the united nations. He was never reminded of the color of his skin.
Now he’s away at college where he’s coming into contact again, with students and faculty from all different races and ethnicity and he’s comfortable with whomever he’s with or wherever he is, until yesterday. You see, there is a flip side to this. Because he grew up never really have to deal with racism, it really shocked him yesterday when a professor made a racist remark directed at him hidden in a joke.
Auditioning for entrance into the acting conservative at another college, he said he was made to feel, upon entering the room, he was not who they expected to see. Then a remark was made by all persons, the professor conducting the class, which seemed to make everyone else in the room uncomfortable with only he thinking it was funny. As he left the interview he felt more and more uncomfortable. So when he called me last night, it was clear to me that this had thrown him. He had never experienced this before and I found myself explaining to my son again that these are some of the things he was going to have to deal with as an African American man in this society. We as his parents have had these conversations with him in the past, but he always dismissed it because he was never confronted with it before.
So last night and this morning, I found myself having to remind my beautiful son that he was talented and smart and that he should never, ever let anyone make him feel less than and that not every person he is going to meet will be as accepting of him as the people he knew growing up. It’s also a reminder once again that racism is alive and well and we have to prepare our children as best as we possibly can and be there to cushion the blow when they’re confronted with it.