In a new essay for Yahoo! Parenting, a white father details a partial list of things that he can take for granted but that will likely be problematic for his bi-racial son.
The essay’s author, Calvin Hennick, says he doesn’t want to give his children a complex about the inequalities he believes they will face in life, but he also wants to prepare them for the road ahead.
“I can’t eliminate all the unfair hurdles that exist in the world,” he writes. “I can only do my best to raise kids who are able to jump over them.”
The 7 things he lists are below:
1. I Can Walk Through a Store Without Being Followed
To take one high-profile instance, Macy’s and the city of New York recently settled with actor Robert Brown, who was handcuffed, humiliated, and accused of committing credit card fraud after buying an expensive watch at the store.
I never have to worry about this happening to me.
2. I Can Succeed Without It Being Attributed to My Race
When my wife, who is black, received her acceptance letter from Boston College, a peer told her she must have gotten in due to affirmative action, effectively ruining the experience of receiving the letter.
3. I Learned About My Ancestors’ History in School
I can tell you all about Louis XIV, Socrates, and the Magna Carta, but I always wondered when we would finally learn about African history (beyond Pharaohs and pyramids). The subject never came up.
4. I Can Lose My Temper in Traffic
Once, an acquaintance who got into a confrontation while driving told me how scared she was of the other driver, describing him as a “big black guy.” When I get heated, no one attributes it to my race.
5. I Can Loiter in Wealthy Neighborhoods
No one has ever called the cops on me to report a “suspicious person.” My wife can’t say the same.
6. I Can Complain About Racism
When I point out that black people are incarcerated at alarming rates, or largely forced to send their children to underperforming schools, or face systemic discrimination when searching for jobs and housing, no one accuses me of “playing the race card.”
7. I Can Count on Being Met on My Own Terms
If I’m being treated poorly, I don’t stop and think about whether it’s due to my race. But unless we somehow make a giant leap forward, my son will always have to wonder.
Hennick recently became a father for a second time. He now has a 3-month-old biracial daughter. He says she will inevitably face many of the same challenges as his son plus additional burdens because she’s a woman.
This isn’t the first Hennick has written about his “struggle” as a parent.
In the days immediately following the shooting death of Michael Brown, the white father wrote an essay for Ebony.com titled, “I Hope My Son Stays White.
The post, published in early September, revealed his fears of what might happen to his biracial 3-year-old son if he grows up to have darker skin, and “can no longer pass for white:”
I’ve never been a black man in America, and I can’t tell him what it’s like. I do know that much of society is still terrified of black males. But I also know that my son’s blackness really only presents a danger to himself. The more he looks like his father, the safer he’s going to be […]
He’s three years old, and although my wife is Haitian, right now his skin is only a couple of shades darker than mine. He’s still light enough that, when my wife takes him out alone, people sometimes think she’s his nanny and ask how much she charges. He’s light enough that, from a distance, he can pass as white. It’s a sickening thing to admit, but I hope he stays that way.
Hennick’s post sparked significant buzz online. Comments ranged from people being in complete shock to allegations that Hennick was engaging in the very racism and colorism that he was condemning.
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