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my son’s whiteness does not negate my blackness
yes, my son is white
not fair skin, albino, not biracial
white
not sure if he will ever be accustomed to the
frequent stares
absurd questions
arbitrary assumptions
especially “well-meaning” white people assumptions
phones are deployed before facts are confirmed
“sorry ma’am, I'm just waiting for my business meeting at Starbucks”
or
“I’m just taking a nap; I’m a Yale student”

my son’s whiteness does not negate my blackness
this reality
of violent history weighs on me
every time I take my son out
of our home
to a park
playground
tae kwon do practice
comic book store
medical appointment
church
out to dinner
or school
he’s white
I’m black
and there are few things that appear more suspicious
than a dark man
living with
laughing with
and loving a white child

I love my blackness
I’m quite aware of my racial identity
others make sure I don’t forget my place
and yet I’d change absolutely nothing about my son

even though I’ve spent the vast majority of my life
examining race, identity and culture
my pigmentation is a clear indication
that my son’s whiteness
will never negate my blackness

I know it’s just a matter of time until
my son will wonder
why is this stranger asking me
“are you safe, lost, ok?”
“how do you know this man sitting, standing, chatting with you?”

and while I understand why our appearance
invites intrusion or confusion
it’s still painful

ironic
nothing unusual about a dark skin woman
toting white kids around town - societal nanny complex

or the Different Strokes complex
Mr. Drummond
Sandra Bullock
Angelina Jolie
Madonna
endless paparazzi shots
nurtured optics
white mom/ black child trope
few parallel examples exist for my son and me

my son’s whiteness doesn’t not negate my blackness
which is why I’m so often afraid of
a country built on the fear
loathing
and labor
of Black men
of me - the bogeyman

my son’s whiteness does not negate
a noose
America’s ghastly love of lynching
steeped in fears of miscegenation
offensive glares
racist legislative policies
systemic racism
bigotry
implicit bias
“good-intentions”

he has yet to notice

but I see people eyeing us
in confusion daily
and worry for the day
when we’re out in public
and he refuses to
hold the safety rail
my hand
stop at the crosswalk
or some form of simple direction

I fear my resulting discipline
direct, stern, loving
might catch the eye
of some well-meaning white person
who challenges my parenting
questions my legitimacy
entirely baffled
calls the police

I wish we lived in a world where this was mere hyperbole
I wish such fears where far-fetched
but unlike my dreams of becoming a father
this wish will probably never come true

much like my mother before me
I go about the quotidian duties of being
a sleep-deprived parent
too absorbed in my son's innocent reality
to allow myself to fully live

in fear

My Son's Whiteness