Sunday, December 21, 2014

Re: Dad's Conversations About Race: "Most White Kids Don't Get This Talk"

"When I watch the news (or worse, read comments on the Internet), it’s easy to feel like practically everyone in the world sees black kids as a threat. But that’s not true, and it’s not what I want them to think."
 - Calvin Hennick, "Dad's Conversations About Race: 'Most White Kids Don't Get This Talk' "

Calvin Hennick and Son, photo from Yahoo publication courtesy of Calvin Hennick
I was forwarded this article recently and asked to comment on it.  Written by a white father with a biracial son, the article details the bullet points of a conversation he intends to have with his young son, who shares an African American heritage with his mother, when the time comes that his son inevitably asks questions about the strange and likely different way he is treated from most of his peers.

It is a conversation he feels that not all parents apparently have with their children.  However, the writer implies, and I agree, that they very well should. Ignoring the issues that Black people face today simply because you or your children are not Black is doing oneself and one's children a great disservice.  Not because Black people should be singled out for special treatment or consideration, but because we are often singled out for mistreatment, negligence or cognizant dissonance.  This behavior has contributed directly to the tensions and strife that has never really gone away from American society since the Civil Rights Era of the mid-20th Century, but has recently resurfaced after an extended, gradual buildup of underlying pressure and activity that can easily be construed as a reversal of the consideration that, many think, or had thought, positively changed modern American sentiments (and progress) during that era.  

It's by no means an easy conversation to have with another grown person, never mind a child.  The dynamics are different: whereas with a child you are teaching, instructing and otherwise adding to their conscious awareness of an issue with wholly negative aspects that challenge their morality, but with adults it's also compounded by the awareness that they already experience, which could either support or deny the points of this discussion, and also has the risk of introducing shame in the event that a person realizes that they have never stood up for an issue that they morally support but consciously or unconsciously ignored or backed down from for various reasons.  I'm not writing to condemn such actions, but to support the awareness of these issues and to pass on any such knowledge that can lead to effective understanding and constructive building on these issues.  I found the article to be forthright and truthful, without the taint of misplaced moral superiority or reflexive anxiety that often undermines discussions of this nature. Take some time to read it and ponder what is discussed.

Take note also of what I quoted above; personally, this was the takeaway for me. I have been hesitant to add my voice to this and similar discussions because I did not very well see that it would be effective, but I'm changing my mind because I absolutely have to.  There is the specter of racial bias and hatred that proliferates the media and comments of many, if not a majority of internet sites and media outlets (Sony Films America being the latest prime example), but I personally know and relate to many people who are not of my heritage who do understand or are capable of understanding the dynamics that force this opinion on the willing, unwilling, complicit or unsuspecting consumer or visitor. There is a dynamic that forces citizens and non-citizens in the very same way to be compartmentalized by race, class and other categories and are then forced to battle one-another for survival and a false sense of superiority when in fact it does not exist except for those who pull these societal strings. Black people are the most obvious target, but by no means does this mean that Black people are or should be universally reviled, and especially not when vociferous media pundits and anonymous commenters proliferate the strongest forms of communication in society and force their ignorance and hatred on others to react to or learn and behave in similar manner.  To me, the continuation of such dynamics is force and acceptance; the willingness to accept such information and conformance to standards and status quo in return for acceptance to society and its benefits to scale (based on historically traditional notions of what is acceptable for whom).  I refuse to accept what bigots and tacit supporters say about me or my heritage based on longstanding hearsay or the basis of guilt by association, and neither should you.

To do so is to drive yourself insane or to commit hara-kiri to your moral compass, your self-respect and your immortal soul. 

All this from a simple discussion you can have with your kids.  What a bargain!

1 comment:

Lyne M said...

Sadly, no one cares about self-interest, instead they're busy being racist. There are a lot of people voting against their self- interests just because they hate minorities. Most people do not have wealth, if they are not living paycheck to paycheck, they are still in debt with a mortgage or a car that's not fully paid. Hatred is why this empire is falling and why other countries have justified and unjustified hatred.