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Friday, April 6, 2018

Why does it always have to be about race?




Whenever I meet someone new or get a FB friend request from a white person I've met recently, I hesitate. I worry. Will they think I talk about race too much? Will they still want to be my friend when they learn that I have a Black child and I talk about it? I've lost friends before over this. 

But here's the problem: it is about race. Because right now, one of my three children has significantly different outcomes in front of him because of his race.

  • At school, he's less likely to do well on the "standardized" tests that allow him access to higher-levels of learning. He's also more likely to get into trouble in the classroom, resulting in loss of learning time plus damage to his self-worth.  He’s only 7, but we’ve already experienced this.
  • In healthcare, he's less likely to get the care he needs, particularly if he is in pain. When I saw those studies, I remembered the breakthrough pain he suffered during after of his surgeries. We've already experienced this.
  • In our justice system, should he survive an interaction with police, he's more likely to face jail time for the same crimes for which his siblings would be given probation. Jesus, let us never experience this.
  • When he goes to get a job, his beautiful Ethiopian name makes it less likely someone will hold onto his resume. We have both income gaps and wealth gaps in our country based on race.
  • When he wants to buy a house, he's more likely to be offered a higher rate mortgage for a house in a "lesser" part of town.

It's like I'm living the worst kind of social experiment. Am I supposed to not talk about it?  I don't worry at all that two of my children might be shot and killed by police once they start driving. But my baby? I don't know how much therapy I'm going to need in order to let him go off by himself in a car. 

We were driving recently with one of my close friends who just returned from living in Africa for several years. She can't get her registration sticker on her license plate without having to take off the frame and she just doesn't want to fool with it. My husband shared that he went an entire year without putting the sticker on because first he forgot and then he misplaced it until about a week before he needed to put a new one. And he was pulled over during that time. The officer didn't even mention it.

Want to know what I was thinking during that entire conversation? We better get our act together. There's no way in hell I'll let my Black child drive out of our driveway in a car that has ANYTHING remotely wrong with it. No expired tags, no broken taillight, no stickers missing. 

White friends, do you share these fears for your white children? I know I don't. Or maybe you're thinking, "This can't be true. There can't be worse outcomes for Black people in every area of life?" Take a moment to look at the data, read this article using data from “Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States: An Intergenerational Perspective” by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Maggie R. Jones and Sonya R. Porter; the Equality of Opportunity Project.


So….yes, friends. It is always about race. And to be honest, it's really hard for me to understand why we all aren't talking about it every chance we get. 💔