April 6, 2012
Are We Teaching Kids the Wrong Lessons About Trayvon?

In the past few weeks, I have read a number of articles about conversations that I, as a black mother, should be having with my 9-year-old son. In his Time.com article "How to Talk to Young Black Boys About Trayvon Martin," Touré begins by saying: “It’s unlikely but possible that you could get killed today. Or any day. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Black maleness is a potentially fatal condition.”
In a CNN blog post, Christy Oglesby speaks of the numerous warnings she has given her son, Drew, about how society might perceive him simply because of his race and gender. “He was only 3 when I got confirmation that being black could be the death of him,” she writes, recounting how a little white girl deemed her son “dirty and dangerous,” presumably because of the color of his skin.
In light of Trayvon Martin’s death, I, too, have cautiously begun the process of preparing my son for the challenges that likely lie ahead of him. I am unprepared for these conversations. I left the United States when I was 3 and spent most of my childhood in Kenya. While there are certainly issues with race and class in Kenya, I never experienced the kind of racism my son will have to deal with in the U.S. As a child, it never dawned on me that anyone would see me as any different, simply because my skin is brown. And so I was completely naïve and did not really think about how my child would be perceived, until last year. […]
I have been told by friends who grew up in the United States that I am going to have to give him lessons on how to behave around police officers. I am going to have to somehow get him to understand, though he certainly cannot wrap his mind around it now, that people will see him as a menace simply because of the color of his skin.
But here’s the thing—I don’t want my son to grow up with these thoughts in his head. My parents never had to give my brother or me these survival tips, and so we were able to grow up blissfully unaware of racism, at least the American variety. I want the same for my child. It is such a burden having to live by a different set of rules, knowing that society at large views you as “less than” because you are black, and male.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Are We Teaching Kids the Wrong Lessons About Trayvon?

In the past few weeks, I have read a number of articles about conversations that I, as a black mother, should be having with my 9-year-old son. In his Time.com article "How to Talk to Young Black Boys About Trayvon Martin," Touré begins by saying: “It’s unlikely but possible that you could get killed today. Or any day. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Black maleness is a potentially fatal condition.”

In a CNN blog post, Christy Oglesby speaks of the numerous warnings she has given her son, Drew, about how society might perceive him simply because of his race and gender. “He was only 3 when I got confirmation that being black could be the death of him,” she writes, recounting how a little white girl deemed her son “dirty and dangerous,” presumably because of the color of his skin.

In light of Trayvon Martin’s death, I, too, have cautiously begun the process of preparing my son for the challenges that likely lie ahead of him. I am unprepared for these conversations. I left the United States when I was 3 and spent most of my childhood in Kenya. While there are certainly issues with race and class in Kenya, I never experienced the kind of racism my son will have to deal with in the U.S. As a child, it never dawned on me that anyone would see me as any different, simply because my skin is brown. And so I was completely naïve and did not really think about how my child would be perceived, until last year. […]

I have been told by friends who grew up in the United States that I am going to have to give him lessons on how to behave around police officers. I am going to have to somehow get him to understand, though he certainly cannot wrap his mind around it now, that people will see him as a menace simply because of the color of his skin.

But here’s the thing—I don’t want my son to grow up with these thoughts in his head. My parents never had to give my brother or me these survival tips, and so we were able to grow up blissfully unaware of racism, at least the American variety. I want the same for my child. It is such a burden having to live by a different set of rules, knowing that society at large views you as “less than” because you are black, and male.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

  1. bebrilliantgo reblogged this from positivelypersistentteach
  2. mollierodriguez reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Are We Teaching Kids the Wrong Lessons About Trayvon?
  3. trinibird reblogged this from theatlantic
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  8. savannahspurplepetmonster reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    this makes me sad…
  9. tangomeroughly reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    I hope my children get the chance to grow up in a world where I don’t have to have these sorts of discussions.
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