Today, in 2016, I’m pretty much at a loss for words when it comes to trying to sort the seemingly unconscionable acts of late. For the past several weeks, my family has literally been in a panic regarding my safety. My father, who is not only prior military but continues to work for the Department of Defense as a military inelegance instructor, sends text messages every day and calls at least 3 times a week – just to make sure that no “incidences of concern” have happened on my daily commute to work. And while the pandemonium of the recent shootings has simmered, the intensity of race relations continues to make the schism between black and white America even wider. All this leaves me with this one question: What do I tell Carson?
Carson is my 7-year-old nephew who, like many boys his age, is just as rambunctious and curious as they come. His parents are two of the most amazingly brilliant and God-fearing people I’ve ever known. I’ve never seen two more dutiful and exceptional examples of parenting outside of my own parents than Tony and Gwen Alexander. Carson is the only boy of Tony and Gwen’s three children; hence, you can see where the pressure to be the little man of the house might come into play. So I always thought I’d be the “fun” uncle and get to tell him how to “charm” his way out of punishment, use logic to circumvent some of his dad’s rules, and of course give him his first sip of Kool-Aid. (Just as an FYI, my big bro and sis are ruthless when it comes to monitoring this kid’s sugar intake – so I had to do something fun for the little guy…) But never would I have imaged that I’d be contemplating how to someday talk to him about being in the skin he’s in and how to navigate living in America – knowing that he’ll be treated differently because of his gender and ethnic heritage.
So for the time being, I’ve resigned myself to taking a more “faith-biased” approach to what I’ll tell Carson. Instead of harping on what is, I’ll tell him what should be. I’ll tell him that “by the time you’re in college, you won’t have to worry about being treated differently because your skin is brown.” I’ll tell him that “when you enter the work force, it’s not going to matter if you’re one of many or one of none who look like you.” I’ll tell him that the only colors that will matter to his generation and those that will follow him in America will be those of the American flag: red for the vigor in our pursuit of justice, white for the purity in our endeavor to help others, and blue for the earnest nature of our duty to mankind.