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Cute Little Black Boys Do Grow Up To Be Black Men

Posted by | July 22, 2009 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments
Owen & Kyle

We can’t talk about our boys being from Haiti without talking about the fact that they are black. So, here goes the first post for Haiti Week~~~

Braydon and I talk about this all the time– the fact that people (even white people!) think that little black kids (especially babies! and even boys!) are so very, very, very “cute”… (“ohhhhhhh! they are A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E!!!”/”wouldn’t you just LOOOOOOOOOOVE to have eyelashes like that?!”/”Oh gosh, is it o.k. for me to admit it-?!-seriously-?!I-just-think-black-babies-are-sooooo-much-cuter-than-other-babies!!!!!!!!!!!”/squeal/giggle/squeeze the cheeks/tousle the hair)… but those very same people (especially white people) come to view those very same black kids (especially boys) as Predators. With a capital P. Not-So-Cute. With a capital N-S-C. ‘When will it happen,’ we wonder, ‘that our black boys will lose their cutie-ness in the eyes of their larger world?’ We know it will happen. Actually, we know that it is happening. (already they look so much older than they are). And it sends shivers up our spines. We talk about it (often) with the black people in our lives. “It will be when they hit puberty!” many have said. “It will be sooner than you think,” others warn. “It will happen as soon as they turn 10,” a good friend said, “I swear,” he told me, “10 is some sort of turning point, it will be as soon as they hit 10.” (A lot of people, as it turns out, say 10.) And then there was a series of deep conversations that Braydon had with one of his colleagues awhile back. She swore, based on her own experience as a black mother of black boys, that “it happens as soon as they lose a tooth.” That tooth thing was a new one to us. But she was so convincing that we’ve been fearing and dreading the Tooth Fairy ever since. (which is tough, since Kyle and Owen are extraordinarily excited –and just cannot wait– for the glorious day that they lose their first tooth… to the point that they regularly try to convince us that their teeth are loose… and we worry that they’ll tug and pull on their teeth so much in their efforts to convince themselves that they are loose, that they will make them loose). Anyway, you get my point: it is going to happen, and it is going to happen sooner than we’d like (because, of course, what we’d like is for the world to just go on forever thinking that our beautiful black boys are just that– beautiful black boys). So, like everybody else who is or has ever been a parent, we see time moving way too quickly, and we see our little babies-toddlers-pre-schoolers-little-boys being taken away from us way too fast, and we see the Big Boys that are taking their place appearing much too often. But, unlike parents of kids who aren’t black boys, we have this whole immense other layer of sadness-concern-dread-fear-and-loathing weighing on us as we watch them grow. We know what the future will bring. And there is a huge dimension of it that we desperately wish we could postpone. Forever. Because we just desperately wish that the parents of the little white girls who now ask them to go to their birthday parties would be just as thrilled ten years from now about their daughters asking our sons to go out on dates or to the prom. And we just desperately wish that their teachers, who now think that they are “sweet rambunctious little boys” would not turn on us later, thinking instead that they “trouble makers” with “behavioral problems.” And we just desperately wish that our boys would never be followed around in a store, suspected of shoplifting, pressured to get out. And we just desperately wish that people would never subconsciously (or consciously?) move out of their way –conceiving of them as Thugs– on the sidewalk or in the elevator or in the lobby or wherever. And we just desperately wish that our boys would never have trouble hailing a cab. Or getting help from the police if they needed it. Or convincing somebody that they are just as legitimate as anyone else in whatever way they need to be seen as legitimate. And yet, we know, that no matter what we do, it is all bound to happen. There is a structure in place. It is ominous and looming. Regardless of who is President. And all we can really do is prepare them for it. Prepare them for the fact that no matter how high up they get, no matter how expensive their suit will be, no matter how drop-dead-gorgeous they become, they will still be, after all, Black Men. If you haven’t been reading about it yet, you really should be:
David Wall Rice from The TakeAway

and if you have just a little more time, you should really read this too:
Jimi Izrael from The Root

and if you are interested in all this, then this is a must-see:
Cornel West and Carl Dix on Democracy Now!

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


  • Barbara says:

    This is heart wrenching. As a white woman with several different races in my family (including a gorgeous mixed race grandson!), I pray I never see this change. And yet……

  • Nik says:

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, I’m assuming you also believe Michael brown was an innocent black teen who was racially profiled and killed? Or maybe you think in his ensuing struggle with the officer that said officer should have just “wounded ” or tased him in the struggle?

    It’s people like yourselves that keep the ongoing racial hatred feud flamed, quit playing the “poor me poor me” card for your boys and just teach them to be upstanding citizens and good people, nobody who isn’t racist (and who matters) won’t see them as black men but as civilized good people. Stop making everything about race you ignorant people. Do your job as parents, praise when deserved and discipline when needed, if more people did that then we wouldn’t have the persecutions against blacks, even though they currently hold the record for more human on human crimes than any other race in the country, that could be easily fixed if every parent would put some damn time into their kids.

    • don raskopf says:

      Too bad your parents failed to raise an intelligent, perceptive and empathetic human being. Teaching you how to actually read would have been helpful.

      • Erica says:

        @Don Thank-you for trying to reach the deep denial and non-Christian attitude of Nik. A segment of society does seem to be missing an empathy chip. It is inhumane to make excuses for murder . There is nothing progressive or evolutionary about being a bigot or so deeply intrenched in privilege that “You can only feel tall when someone else is on their knees.” -Toni Morrison

    • Natalie says:

      Wow, just wow, Nik. You are clueless, heartless, and part of the problem. It’s amazing that you can see anything with those biggot-clouded eyes. I really hope you are not a parent. If you are, then I feel sorry for your children.

    • Diane says:

      Nik, you unfortunately have missed the point completely. This is a commentary how society reacts to black males. Have your ever locked your door when you saw a black individual on the street? Have you ever changes your body language and posture when you encountered a black male in a store? Your comments are ignorant. This is a commentary on despite raising her children to be good men they will still be be judged and treated with disdain simply because of their skin color. And like ALL, I repeat ALL young males, they will so something stupid, but unlike non-black males, it may cost them their lives.

    • T Proctor says:

      I will simply state…..Nik you are an ignorant idiot.

    • Jane says:

      Just thinking about if you happened to die or otherwise become a victim at the hands of another white person. After all, you all hold the record for mass murders, suicides, school shootings, kidnappings, etc. Dude…wake up. Your white privilege, the white-washed history you’ve been taught, and the white leaning media you glean your news from has you completely blind.

  • Lyn says:

    If this is the “dumbest thing” the previous poster has never seen, I would respectfully suggest he hasn’t looked around lately. Sadly, there is a bias in this country that exists whether one is willing to acknowledge it or not. I commend you for raising your children to be good men and good citizens, and pray for them in the hope that when they are adults, this bias will either no longer be dismissed as a fallacy, or, better yet, cease to exist altogether.

  • Bianca says:

    Nik, oh dear it is such a shame you have been brain washed along with alot of the world! Firstly to defend black people entirely do you ever wonder that perhaps they commit more crime etc, because they are sick and tired of being judged, mocked, degraded by society? Just because everything is ‘equal’ these days doesn’t mean that us as white people should think it’s Ok because everythings ‘supposedly’ fair. Well is it Hell! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear a racial comment towards black people. I as I white person am imbarassed that it’s still this way and feel guilt dispite me not being part of it! I feel like I owe the whole world of black people a reason as to why my ansestary was so cruel and absolutely wrong! There are equally just as many white thugs that get forgotten about. My guess is Nik is that you are either rich and have never mixed with grounded people or you have racist parents!

    I pray your offspring learns differently on this subject elsewhere.

  • Lida says:

    My godsons are little black boys who are growing into black men. I used to be the angry white woman – ready to fight the world for justice- in the store when they would be followed, ignored, stared at and have other shoppers make comments or walk a huge circle to get around them. It happened when the oldest was about 12-13, the middle was about 10 and the baby was about 5-6. They were normal children but they did not always receive normal treatment. I understand your fears and what you are going through.

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