Just a few minutes ago, I ran into a boy from my hometown and began to ask him about school and if he was excited for Christmas. Out of nowhere he started telling me that he “kinda” likes school but thinks the holidays and life in general would be better if he were white.
Yeah, I heard him correctly. I pulled him out into the hall and asked him why he said what he said. His reply? “White people are nicer.”. By that time, his aunt overheard him on her way walking to where we were and chimed in as we BOTH assured him that black people are nice too! Normally, this would surprise me, but given his background and upbringing, I sadly understood how he could come to this conclusion.
Although he’s only in school, he’s had a tumultuously unstable upbringing in a dysfunctional home to parents (both African American) who were clearly not ready to bring a child into the world. He’s seen and experienced things GROWN MEN shouldn’t even experience, let alone a child! He’s extremely intelligent which actually works against him at times. He is smart enough to see through the “baby talk” many adults and teachers try to give him and knows that they really look at him as an unfortunate boy who gets on their nerves. He sees the news and hears adults talk about black boys being thugs or getting killed for just being black. He bears witness to the tangled web of what it is to be black in America and because of this, this little local boy has unknowingly learned to associate people of color with inferiority.
I mentally stepped away for a moment as the little boy continued to explain his reasoning and asked myself, “Why is he not believing me when I say every black person isn’t bad and every white person isn’t good?!” I snapped back into reality and it hit me once I heard the words, “that’s why my girlfriend is white”, escape from his tiny little mouth.
Everything (mostly media) he sees and has witnessed is his few years here on earth paints being African American as a negative trait. From the rachet reality shows, to the reports of black on black crimes, to the recent uproar in Ferguson, to “new age” hip hop and rap heavy hitters degrading themselves, to growing up in a home where black people didn’t have it together — this child has had it mentally seared into his psyche that “white people aren’t making fools of themselves.” “white people must hate blacks because they’re bad” “black people have gangs which are bad so that makes them all bad”.
This is a problem that I’m not sure will ever truly be cured. There will probably always be ways to disenfranchise the black culture and it’s members through media and through what we teach (or don’t teach) our black children at home. I don’t have a solution and this really isn’t much of a commentary, but my thoughts as they are coming to me in real time. I clearly see more than ever that if a 4-6 year old boy wishes he was white so he can be a ‘better person’….something is wrong.
We need a change. Will you help us change?