Feeling like the 1950’s up in this house.
My son attends a predominantly White and Asian school here in our city.
No Black teachers or administrators.
He’s often one of the few or only Black students in his class.
As I sit listening to my thoughts, writing the first day of school speech I will deliver on Sunday night; I’m wondering….
Why, in 2010, am I compelled to remind him that he represents his entire race, you know, that whole ‘fictive kinship’? I mean we DO have a Black president…
Why, in 2010, will I emphasize the importance of him sitting in the front of the class, close to the teacher, to demonstrate that he is there to learn? Why else would he be, right?
Why, in 2010, am I going to explain that he is to walk with his head high, look his peers and teachers directly in their eyes, and let them KNOW: he is a strong Afrikan male, not some boot licking negro. And yes, I will use those EXACT words.
Yes, even in 2010, I will revisit the type of backhanded compliments and examples of racial micro-aggressions that he might hear from his classmates and instructors. I’ll go so far as to role-play and challenge him to think about how to respond.
It’s a bit much, isn’t it?
Still, here, in 2010, I will drill him on the type of racial stereotypes that cling to his body like masking tape, influencing how everyone sees and responds to him.
You’ve got to work harder.
You’ve got to be the best.
They expect you to fail.
Be the most polite.
But don’t let anybody push you around.
And then there’s my spiel on staying “down” with his folk who aren’t as privileged as he is. I don’t care if other folk want you to believe you’re “different”, you’re not. “Your loyalty and allegiance”, I will say, “is with your folk who are marginalized, pushed into the lowest tracked classes, not with those who tell you that you’re special.”
I can already anticipate the anxiety my speech will imbue.
I wonder if maybe this once, I should hold my racially charged diatribe…
Maybe this once, it will be enough to say: HAVE A GREAT DAY! DO YOUR BEST!
But I can’t.
Maybe next year.