According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, starting at age 10 black boys are viewed as less innocent than their white peers, and are more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty, and face police violence if accused of a crime. My son is a typical six-year-old boy. He is loud and high-energy, which often brings me to the brink of insanity. Then he reels me back in with a heart-melting, “I love you so much, Mama.” My son is also big for his age. And that fact combined with the fact that he is black is terrifying for me as a mother. I struggle with how to prepare him for the world without killing his spirit.
My son knows that he is black.
But he knows it in the same way that he knows he has black hair and brown eyes. He doesn’t know that being black will influence how some people will view him. He doesn’t know that it will affect how some people will treat him. And that it will cause others to make assumptions about him. When I found out I was having a boy, I knew that I’d have to have “the talk” or a series of talks with my son about being black. But, I never thought about just how difficult it would be to tailor these conversations for a kindergartener. In my house, we talk about race, inequality, and justice all of the time. These conversations flow freely between my husband and me and our teenage daughter and mostly go over my son’s head.
Finding resources for “The Talk” is easy. Finding the right words isn’t.
There are a lot of great resources about race and injustice, including here on the DC Area Moms website, but no matter how much I read, or how many podcasts I listen to, I can’t seem to find the words. Actually, that’s not true. I know what I should say. But how do I look at my sweet doe-eyed boy and tell him that the world is more dangerous for him because of the color of his skin? How do I tell him that simple activities like wearing a hoodie, playing loud music, playing with a pellet gun, or walking home can have grave consequences?
I would change the world for my son if I could. But since I can’t, I will prepare my son for the world and hope that it doesn’t change him.