My son pulled on his HOODIE as we exited the car and were headed into my mom’s house. Ugh, my reaction “Take that off now! He tells me I am letting society change my ideas. He is only 14 and oblivious to the world around him or at least I think this is the case on some days. We recently moved back to the suburbs about twenty minutes west of the city. It is a lot closer than our previous address in the suburbs which was e forty-five minutes from the city. Although the new location is more affluent the subtle racism has surfaced. I totally believe the kids are insensitive to what they deem as jokes. It cuts like a knife for the kids who are on the receiving end. My teen has experienced a few incidents of the kids making comments that are totally unacceptable. In one incident the kids were sitting at a lunch table making a whipping sound, the irony is another student told the guidance counselor on my teen’s behalf. My teen has not used his voice to act on the comments and/or the gestures. I have suggested talking to the Vice Principal, now Principal but to no avail.
Now you may ask why my problem with the HOODIE? My problem with the HOODIE is the fact it triggers a defense and fear for those without brown skin. I cannot stress enough to my teen that his HOODIE for some immediately say perpetrator on the 5:00 NEWS! Those who judge his brown skin have no clue he is intelligent, well spoken, a teen with aspirations of going to Stanford. They cannot see the challenges he faces with moving to a new neighborhood, attending a new school, and navigating a new peer group. They cannot see his sense of humor, love of hip hop, the fact he tech savvy and a great debater. What they can see is his BROWN SKIN and that equals THREAT!!
When I was pregnant with my teen I remember being pulled over by a police officer for entering the turning lane too soon. I was almost 8 months pregnant driving my company Ford Taurus and confused when I saw the flashing lights. My husband was following me at the time and he pulled over and exited his car to cross the street with me and the officer. I could see the officer instantly become unnerved he even asked me “who is he” when I explained my husband he said “Sir go back to your car” The officer’s defense was immediate when he saw the brown man approaching him who posed no threat. The act of showing concern because of my condition warranted his defensive stance?????. In light of the recent incidents involving law enforcement that day fourteen years ago presented an opportunity go totally wrong. There are a number of lessons on teaching men of color how and what to do when stopped by an officer or approaching an officer.
I wish a light would go off and my teen suddenly understands my uneasiness. How much shock value must we provide? How do you teach your son to be proud of who is? when he is feared! How do I provide him with the knowledge to conduct himself accordingly if stopped or questioned? It is a daunting task to deal with while allowing him the freedom to enjoy his teen years. It really makes me question does the same freedoms apply to our boys with brown skin. How can we maintain any hope for a bright future when we live in the YET TO BE UNITED STATES?